OHSU inventors collaborate with local community to make life better for transplant patients

Left to right: Chris Tobias; Dr. Amira Al-Uzri, OHSU; Colleen Lay, OCTRI; Dorota Shortell, Simplexity

Monitoring medication levels for transplant patients is tricky–for one thing, it requires patients to visit laboratories for blood draws monthly, or even weekly. Amira Al-Uzri, M.D., Pediatric Nephrology, and her team, which includes Dennis Koop, PhD, Physiology & Pharmacology, and Andy Chitty, MBA, University Shared Resources, wanted to see if they could make life easier for these patients. They have developed a user-friendly dried blood spot collection device that can be applied in-home to obtain an accurate and precise blood sample. The invention from Dr. Al-Uzri’s team will allow patients to collect accurate blood samples at home, replacing visits to the clinic, and will benefit those who require life-long therapeutic drug monitoring.

The technology’s development has required Dr. Al-Uzri and her team–which itself is a cross-disciplinary collaboration–to build an extensive collaboration across Oregon. For example, the Oregon Clinical &Translational Research Institute provided funding, mentoring, educational opportunities, and project management through their Biomedical Innovation Program, leading to the creation of a product prototype and initial product testing. The device served as a case study for the University of Oregon’s Technology Entrepreneurship Program, receiving a comprehensive marketing plan as a result. It was also presented at the Oregon Bioscience Conference last September and was featured at the Med Tech Alliance on May 6, 2015. The OHSU Office of Proposals & Award Management negotiated the complex agreements related to the Biomedical Innovation Program grant. Simplexity Product Development, an engineering firm in Washington and California, aided in the research and development process and also provided capital for the prototype creation. The in-house patent team within the Technology Transfer & Business Development  office at OHSU has written and filed a patent application on the invention.  The resulting intellectual property is jointly owned with Simplexity Product Development and will be managed by OHSU. Lastly, Allegory Venture Partners provided the OHSU researchers guidance that may turn into a venture capital investment if the technology reaches market viability.

These partnerships play an important role in the development of inventions at OHSU. Outside collaborations can create positive working relationships among inventors, OHSU, and local organizations that can ultimately create a stronger foundation for success. Dr. Al-Uzri and her team are currently looking for final set of collaborators to license the device and bring their efforts into the hands of patients.