Professor Hassenwinkel received the Coulter award for her work on novel two-solution based bone cements for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. This is a two year continuation of her Early Career Translational Research Award in Biomedical Engineering, originally funded by the Foundation in 2007. The Phase II award provides $260,000 for the next two years, during which Dr. Hasenwinkel and her research group will investigate the biomechanical performance of their cements in cadaver vertebrae, the shelf-life of these materials, the ability to incorporate bioactive compounds into the cements, and the in vivo biocompatibility of specific cement compositions.
Why is the Foundation doing this program?
The Foundation is implementing this program to continue the life-long work of its benefactor, Wallace H. Coulter. Wallace was an engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur who believed that the results of research must be taken to the stage of a commercially viable product in order to truly benefit humanity. Believing that the contributions of engineers to solving biomedical problems were generally under-recognized, Wallace mentored and encouraged young engineers to dream, take risks, and be innovative.
What do you mean by translational research?
That’s actually a difficult question to answer succinctly. Different people have different perceptions of what is meant by translational research, and volumes have been written about it. From the Foundation’s perspective, translational research is research that has some or all of the following characteristics:
- It is driven primarily by considerations of use and practical applications of the research results, as opposed to basic research, which is driven primarily by a quest for knowledge.
- It envisions the development of a practical solution that addresses a particular clinical problem or unmet clinical need.
- It often envisions as an endpoint the development of a particular product.
- The research results generally include intellectual property that can be protected by patents.
- It involves clinical application as a goal, and therefore requires a transition (a translation) of the research from the research laboratory to the clinic (“bench to bedside”).
- It involves commercialization as a goal, and therefore requires a transition (a translation) of the technology (technology transfer) from the academic institution to a commercial entity for final product development, manufacturing and sales.