Two Nebraska biomed startups pitch at national demo day

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 20, 2016)—Two Nebraska biomedical startup companies were among the “Best University Startups of 2016,” a national demo day event that featured 35 nationally selected companies to present their technologies and meet with congressional leaders.

“There were more than 200 companies nationwide who applied for this opportunity,” UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, Ph.D., said. “Getting two Nebraska startup companies into the room demonstrates the University’s commitment to growing the state’s biomedical economy.”

Calidum Chairman Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., addresses a standing room only crowd during the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer's national demo day in Washington D.C. on Sept. 20, 2016. Calidum is developing a radiopharmaceutical invented at the University of Nebraska Medical Centert that could dramatically change how some cancers are diagnosed, monitored and treated.

Calidum Chairman Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., addresses a standing room only crowd during the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer’s Best University Startups of 2016, a national demo day in Washington D.C. on Sept. 20, 2016. Calidum is developing a radiopharmaceutical invented at the University of Nebraska Medical Center that could dramatically change how some cancers are diagnosed, monitored and treated.

In all, the selected companies represented 17 states and the District of Columbia at the national demo day. Pennsylvania had the most with five startups presenting. California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Ohio all had three apiece. Nebraska was joined by D.C. and Minnesota as the only other areas with multiple entries at two apiece. The remaining states, with one presentation each, were Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

The Nebraska startup companies—Calidum Inc. and Orion BioScience—met with elected officials after addressing a standing-room crowd of venture capitalists, angel investors and industrial representatives on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Calidum is based on a technology invented at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The technology specifically targets certain types of cancer for more effective treatments and diagnoses. Calidum’s president, Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., delivered the presentation.

Orion is based on a technology invented at the University of Kansas, but relocated its headquarters to Omaha for Nebraska’s startup-friendly climate. Moving to Omaha also brings Orion closer to its clinical partner, UNMC. Orion is built around a platform technology that looks to restore immune tolerance as a way to cure autoimmune diseases.

BRad Ashord meets Sam Al-Murrani and Michael Dixon.

Sen. Brad Ashford (left) shares a joke as he meets with Calidum’s Sam Al-Murrani while UNeMed’s Michael Dixon looks on.

“The best part is the presentations did exactly what we hoped they would do,” Dr. Dixon said. “Both companies made significant connections to major biomedical and venture capital organizations. Building relationships like that can be tremendously difficult, but it’s a huge part of successfully commercializing a university technology.”

Dr. Dixon joined Dr. Al-Murrani and Orion CSO Joshua Sestak, Ph.D., in meetings with members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation: Rep. Brad Ashford, Sen. Deb Fischer and an aide from Sen. Ben Sasse’s office.

The meetings with elected officials covered several key areas, but focused mainly on the unique challenges facing biomedical startups and university technology transfer offices like UNeMed.

Biomedical startups often run into funding shortfalls after the initial federal grant programs, which typically financed initial discoveries. But it is usually industrial financing that supports the hefty price tag of product development.

Joshua Sestak, Deb Fischer, Sam Al-Murrani and Michael Dixon.

Pictured from left are Orion BioScience CSO Joshua Sestak, Ph.D., Sen. Deb Fischer, Calidum Chairman Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., and UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon.

Between those two resources, however, biomedical innovations often languish in a so-called “valley of death.” That valley represents a wide gap where a technology is too far along for further federal funding, yet paradoxically too far away to encourage support from industrial or investment groups.

The National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer hosted and sponsored the national demo day. According to its website, another national demo day is planned for April 18-20, 2017. The application deadline for the “Best University Startups of 2017” is Dec. 15, 2016.

 

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$20 million research grant is largest ever for UNMC

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Will focus on clinical/translational research, developing early career researchers into independent scientists

Some of the steering committee members of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network

Some of the steering committee members of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network include: (left-right) Ted Mikuls, M.D., Ann Fruhling, Ph.D., Ashok Mudgapalli, Ph.D., Fang Yu, Ph.D., Jim McClay, M.D., Matt Rizzo, M.D., Mary Cramer, Ph.D., Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, Ph.D., Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D., Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D., and Karla Klaus. NOTE: Dr. Fruhling is from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. All others in the photo are from UNMC. Those UNMC steering committee members missing from the photo are: Paul Estabrooks, Ph.D., Lani (Chi Chi) Zimmerman, Ph.D., Jane Meza, Ph.D., and Babu Guda, Ph.D.

by Tom O’Connor, UNMC

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 25, 2016)—A team of University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers headed by Matthew Rizzo, M.D., professor and chair of the department of neurological sciences, has landed the largest grant ever for UNMC – a five-year research grant from the National Institutes of Health totaling nearly $20 million.

Funding is provided through the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program and the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Studies. It will focus on developing early career researchers into independent scientists and increasing the infrastructure and other resources needed to support clinical/translational research (CTR) around the region.

The grant will create the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network, a collaboration involving nine institutions in four states – Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas.

In addition to UNMC, the Nebraska institutions include the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney and Boys Town National Research Hospital. Other participants include the University of South Dakota, University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“This is a huge accomplishment for our institution,” said Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. “It’s never easy to compete for a research grant of this magnitude. It represents years of hard work by lots of dedicated individuals. We couldn’t be more proud. This is truly a great day for UNMC and for our research partners.”

“We’ve been building clinical/translational research resources steadily for almost a decade to prepare us to compete for this or other large clinical/translational grant awards,” said Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor for research. “Receiving this award shows we ‘have arrived,’ and the award itself will further expand the resources available for our faculty to continue to successfully compete on a national level.”

The grant will be particularly focused on expanding knowledge about approaches needed to address diseases of aging and brain health, Dr. Rizzo said.

“The states involved in our grant are rural states, so we will put extra emphasis on projects that will benefit people in rural areas or the medically underserved,” he said. “There is a strong aspect of community engagement. There are many good ideas that need to be studied. We can’t wait to get going and recruit our first class of scholars and launch our first pilot projects.”

A community engagement core group has been formed, Dr. Rizzo said. It is an interprofessional group that includes investigators from the colleges of medicine, nursing and public health at UNMC as well as researchers from the other participating institutions and the communities they serve.

“The goal of this grant is to help early career scientists to become independent and launch their own research programs,” Dr. Rizzo said. “We want to fill in the health gaps in the Great Plains area. We have unique needs. We have areas with relatively few people in big spaces, as well as medically underserved populations in urban areas.”

“This is all about improving the body of knowledge,” said Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean of UNMC research and development and a professor of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience. “We do research that helps people. What that research will be is determined by the talented scientists at our participating institutions.”

UNMC’s largest previous grant – also from the NIH IDeA program – was a $17.2 million grant awarded in 2009 to James Turpen, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. The grant was renewed in 2015 for $16.2 million.

Institutional Development Award (IDeA)

The Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program broadens the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical research.

The program fosters health-related research and enhances the competitiveness of investigators at institutions located in states in which the aggregate success rate for applications to NIH has historically been low.

The CTR program allows IDeA states to develop infrastructure and capacity to conduct clinical and translational research on diseases that are prevalent in their population. It is designed to focus on meeting the needs of unique populations such as rural and medically underserved communities.

The IDeA-CTR program increases the competitiveness of investigators by supporting faculty development and research infrastructure. It further provides for mentoring and career development activities in clinical and translational research.

Leadership team — Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network

University of Nebraska Medical Center

  • Matthew Rizzo, M.D., (principal investigator) professor and chair, neurological sciences, College of Medicine
  • Paul Estabrooks, Ph.D., professor and chair, health professions, societal and behavioral health, College of Public Health
  • Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D., professor, pharmacology and experimental neuroscience, senior associate dean for research, College of Medicine
  • Mary Cramer, Ph.D., professor, College of Nursing
  • Ted Mikuls, M.D., professor, internal medicine – rheumatology, College of Medicine
  • Lani (Chi Chi) Zimmerman, Ph.D., professor, College of Nursing
  • Fang Yu, Ph.D., associate professor, biostatistics, College of Public Health
  • Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, Ph.D., associate professor and vice chair, epidemiology, College of Public Health
  • Jane Meza, Ph.D., professor, biostatistics, senior associate dean, College of Public Health
  • Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D., professor, environmental, agricultural and occupational health, College of Public Health
  • Dave Palm, Ph.D., associate professor, health services, research and administration, College of Public Health
  • Jim McClay, M.D., associate professor, emergency medicine, College of Medicine
  • Babu Guda, Ph.D., professor, genetics, cell biology & anatomy, director, Bioinformatics & System Biological Core Facility, College of Medicine
  • Ashok Mudgapalli, Ph.D., assistant professor, genetics, cell biology & anatomy, College of Medicine
  • Denise Britigan, Ph.D., assistant professor, health professions, societal and behavioral health, College of Public Health
  • Karla Klaus, program administrator, vice chancellor for research

University of Nebraska at Omaha

  •  Jeffrey French, Ph.D., professor, psychology and biology, and director of the neuroscience program
  • Ann Fruhling, Ph.D., professor of the College of Information Science and Technology and the founding director of the School of Interdisciplinary Informatics

University of Nebraska at Kearney

  •  Kimberly Carlson, Ph.D., professor, biology

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Melanie Simpson, Ph.D., professor, biochemistry

Boys Town National Research Hospital

  • Walt Jesteadt, Ph.D., director of research and director Psychoacoustics Laboratory
  • Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., director, Center for Audiology, and director, Audibility, Perception and Cognition Lab

University of South Dakota

  • Robin Miskimins, Ph.D., associate dean, basic biomedical sciences, Sanford School of Medicine,

University of North Dakota

  • Jonathan Geiger, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Therapeutics

North Dakota State University

  • Mark McCourt, Ph.D., professor, psychology, and director of Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience

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Demo Day videos are now available

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demodayposter16fin

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 24, 2016)—UNeMed released today four video excerpts from its UNMC Technology Demonstration Day held earlier this month.

A part of its annual Innovation Week festivities, UNeMed’s Demo Day featured six early-stage technologies invented or under development at UNMC and UNO.

Included in the published videos are presentations about 3D-printed prosthetics, a synthetic peptide that boosts the immune system, a “disruptive” hemodialysis catheter, and a platform technology that could make renal denervation a more practical treatment for high blood pressure. Two additional presentations were delivered during the event, Avert’s concussion detection platform and Orion BioScience’s curative approach to autoimmune disorders. But those two presentations cannot be made public at this time.

demoday16_cyborgbeast1_5x7Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D., was among the speakers for the Cyborg Beast, a startup company he co-founded to help bring affordable prosthetics hands to children everywhere. Dr. Zuniga and his team at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s state-of-the-art biomechanics department are also developing elbow and shoulder prosthetics, and are now beginning work on similar devices for the leg.

Prommune CEO Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., presented an immune stimulating peptide invented by UNMC’s Sam Sanderson, Ph.D. The peptide, EP67, has shown to be incredible flexible in stimulating the natural immune response and as an adjuvant or additive that boosts the power of known vaccines.

Hemodialysis catheter

Hemodialysis catheter

Chrysalis Medical CEO Ron Allen, Ph.D., presented a new hemodialysis catheter that is expected to hit the market within the next few months. Developed by Nebraska Medicine surgeon and UNMC associate professor Marius Florescu, M.D., the innovative catheter includes a small balloon that can be used to break up the natural accumulation of fibrous tissue that builds up over time. The new catheter eliminates the need for additional surgical procedures—and the associated risks—to replace a blocked catheter, which is the current standard of care.

Peter Pellegrino, Ph.D., rounds out the list of presentations with his talk about improving renal denervation. A recent clinical trial for a surgical procedure to treat high blood pressure gained notoriety when it failed to meet expectations. The treatment involves destroying misfiring nerves around the kidneys, but with no good way to measure the success of the procedure in real-time, it ultimately failed. Dr. Pellegrino, working with Irving Zucker,Ph.D., and his team, explains how UNMC developed a solution that can make the procedure more successful.

Demo Day was held Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, at the Michael F. Sorrell Center at UNMC. All available videos from the most recent event, can be viewed below. Videos from previous Demo Day events can be found on the UNeMed YouTube channel.

 

 

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Free luncheon will explore drug development, translational research

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rosenLINCOLN, Neb. (Oct. 21, 2016)—A Stanford University professor with more than 30 patents will headline a luncheon and keynote here that will explore drug development in academia.

Maria Mochly-Rosen, Ph.D., is the George D. Smith Professor for Translational Medicine at Stanford’s School of Medicine. The title of Dr. Mochly-Rosen’s planned presentation is: “P110: A Means to Slow Down or Prevent the Progression of Neurodegenerative Diseases; or How to SPARK Translational Research in Academia.”

The event will be held at the Wick Alumni Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s city campus, on Nov. 1, at 11:30 a.m-1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to all, but registration is required.

Dr. Mochly-Rosen is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, where she focuses on peptide inhibitors of protein-protein interactions to modulate key protein kinases and to regulate mitochondrial function. Her lab also develops small molecules to correct common mutations that affect about 500 million people.

unl2016researchfairShe is also the founding director of SPARK, Stanford’s program for promoting translational research in academia. In the last nine years, SPARK has helped more than 100 inventors move their biopharmaceutical and diagnostic innovations closer to the clinic.

Dr. Mochly-Rosen’s luncheon is a part of the 2016 UNL Fall Research Fair. Learn more at http://research.unl.edu/fallresearchfair/.

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Zucker named Innovator of the Year

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Iriving Zucker, Ph.D., accepts the 2016 Innovator of the Year award.

Iriving Zucker, Ph.D., accepts the 2016 Innovator of the Year award.

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 6, 2016)—Irving Zucker, Ph.D., landed top honors at UNeMed’s annual Research Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception last week, taking home the 2016 “Innovator of the Year” award.

From left are UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, Ph.D., Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., Tantiana Bronich, Ph.D., and UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, M.D.

From left are UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, Ph.D., Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., Tantiana Bronich, Ph.D., and UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, M.D.

Collaborators Joyce Solheim, Ph.D., and Tatiana Bronich, Ph.D., also earned special recognition as the inventors of the “Most Promising New Invention” of 2016. Together, Drs. Solheim and Bronich developed a nanoparticle formulation of a protein called CCL21. The nanoformulated CCL21 has shown great potential for the treatment of cancer.

Hosted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s technology transfer and commercialization office, the Innovation Awards recognized more than 150 UNMC innovators. Each year, UNeMed sponsors Innovation Week as a way to celebrate and honor all UNMC faculty, students and staff who reported a new invention, secured a U.S. patent or licensed a technology.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, M.D., and UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, Ph.D., presented the awards.

Dr. Zucker, UNMC’s 2007 Scientist Laureate, won the Innovator of the Year Award on the back of a new treatment strategy he and his team developed for cardiovascular disease.

“This was really an unexpected honor,” Dr. Zucker said during his brief acceptance speech. “Really, the credit goes not to me—I provided the laboratory and maybe some of the funding to get it started—but I’ve been very fortunate to have some really talented people who work in our laboratory.”

His laboratory is focused on reducing the excessive sympathetic nerve activity found in chronic heart failure and in patients with high blood pressure. A biopharmaceutical company recently licensed one of Dr. Zucker’s innovations in a collaborative agreement that could lead to an FDA-approved treatment for chronic heart failure and high blood pressure.

Above, UNMC researcher Don Wang, Ph.D., was among the few who earned recognition in all three categories: New Invention, U.S. Patent and Licensed Technology.

Above, UNMC researcher Don Wang, Ph.D., was among the few who earned recognition in all three categories: New Invention, U.S. Patent and Licensed Technology.

The nanoparticle developed by Drs. Solheim and Bronich is based on a protein messenger, or chemokine, that has the ability to attract immune cells to a tumor. But the chemokine, CCL21, degrades too quickly inside the body to do much good. By encapsulating the chemokine in a nanoparticle, Drs. Solheim and Bronich found a way to prolong the effects of CCL21.

Previously, Dr. Solheim was named a 2006 Distinguished Scientist. Dr. Bronich was a 2007 New Investigator Award winner, then a 2011 Distinguished Scientist. In 2014 Dr. Bronich was named Scientist Laureate, UNMC’s highest honor bestowed on researchers.

Graduate student Erik Rask won a 3D printer during the event.

Graduate student Erik Rask won a 3D printer during the event.

UNeMed, which celebrated its 25th anniversary during Innovation Week, raffled away a free 3D printer to Erik Rask, a graduate student in UNMC’s cardiovascular and biomechanics laboratory.

Innovation Week began Monday, Oct. 4, with a Kick-off event that featured UNeMed staffers handing out free T-shirts and other items. Innovation Week continued Tuesday with a panel discussion about the biomedical applications of 3D printing.

On Wednesday, UNeMed hosted its fourth UNMC Technology Demonstration Day, which featured six startups and technologies.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week or view pictures from all events on UNeMed’s Flickr page at http://bit.ly/InnovationWeek16pics.

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Six technologies featured at Demo Day 2016

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demoday16_cyborgbeast1_5x7

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 5, 2016)—Some of the university’s more intriguing technologies and startups were on display Wednesday evening during the fourth installment of UNMC Technology Demonstration Day at the Michael F. Sorrell Center.

A part of UNeMed’s 2016 Innovation Week, Demo Day featured six short presentations, and examined some UNMC technologies and partnerships as they move toward the marketplace.

The featured companies and technologies were Orion BioScience, sympathetic vasomotion, Avert, Prommune Inc., Cyborg Beast and Chrysalis Medical. Videos of all presentations will soon be made available on UNeMed’s YouTube channel.

Josh Sestak

Josh Sestak

Josh Sestak, Ph.D., the Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Orion BioScience, began with the first of six 10-minute presentations. Orion is an Omaha startup working on a platform technology that holds the potential as a cure for autoimmune diseases.

Peter Pellegrino, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate at UNMC, is a researcher in
Irving Zucker’s, Ph.D., laboratory where they’ve developed an system for accurately measuring the sympathetic nervous system. The technology—referred to as sympathetic vasomotion—could be used to non-invasively measure neural signals that regulate blood flood flow. It could be used to improve significantly current procedures related to high blood pressure, blood loss and neurodegenerative diseases.

demoday16_badeer1_5x7

Preston Badeer

Preston Badeer, CEO, presented Avert’s concussion detection platform. The technology works much like a bathroom scale, detecting imperceptible shifts in a person’s balance. When a person such as a football player suffers a concussion, the small shifts in balance change patterns. The automated system might be the earliest and most accurate way to detect when a person has suffered a concussion. More importantly, it can also accurately gauge when a persona has full recovered from a concussion as well.

demoday16_almurrani1_5x7

Sam Al-Murrani

Prommune Inc. CEO Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., outlined his company’s approach to fighting infections. Prommune’s technology is based on a synthetic protein that boosts the natural immune response to certain infections.

Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D., a researcher at UNO’s Biomechanics Research Building, presented Cyborg Beast, a prosthetic hand for children that is made entirely with 3D-printed parts. The bright—and often multi-colored—hands are popular worldwide, and look like something out of the pages of science fiction. One of his designs led to actor Robert Downey Jr. presenting a version of Zuniga’s cybernetic “Iron Man” hand to a Florida boy. His goal is to provide low-cost or even free prosthetics to children around the world, and he is expected to outline some his latest developments.

Hemodialysis catheter

Hemodialysis catheter

Chrysalis Medical CEO Ron Allen closed out the presentations with a talk about a new kidney dialysis catheter that is expected to enter the market within the next six months. Built into the new catheter’s tip is a small balloon, similar to the type used in angioplasty procedures. The catheter’s balloon is used to break up and minimize the amount of tissue that often builds up on dialysis catheters. The innovative device eliminates most of the need for the current standard of care, which is often the costly and somewhat risky procedure of replacing a blocked or obstructed catheter.

Innovation Week concluded this evening at 4 p.m. in the Durham Research Center auditorium with the Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception. There, UNeMed will honor all UNMC faculty, students and staff who disclosed a new invention, received a U.S. patent or licensed a technology in fiscal year 2016. UNeMed will also name the 2016 Innovator of the Year and the 2016 Most Promising New Invention.

Officials will also draw for a free 3D printer, which can be won by any UNMC personnel or student who enter the drawing at any Innovation Week event. They must be present at the drawing in order to win, however.

For more information about all 2016 Innovation Week events, go to http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Innovation Awards are tonight

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awards_300x300OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 6, 2016)—Innovation Week wraps up tonight with the 10th Annual Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception at 4 p.m. in the Durham Research Center auditorium.

The awards honor all University of Nebraska Medical Center students, faculty and staff who disclosed a new invention, received a U.S. patent where a contributor on a licensed technology. UNeMed will also announce the 2016 Innovator of the Year and the Most Promising New Invention of 2016.

UNeMed will also draw the winning name of the free 3D printer, but the entrant must be present to win.

Earlier this week, UNeMed hosted a Kick-Off event, a panel discussion about 3D printing in healthcare, and the UNMC Technology Demonstration Day.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

All Innovation Week events are free and open to all.

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Future of medicine, 3D printing explored during panel

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UNeMed's annual Innovation Week continued Oct. 4 with a panel discussion about the biomedical applications in healthcare. Above, R. Gabe Linke, the 3D printing coordinator at Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, shows guests a 3D-printed model of a newborn's heart. Surgeons used the model to study abnormalities, and planned an eventually successful procedure to correct the problems.

UNeMed’s annual Innovation Week continued Oct. 4 with a panel discussion about the biomedical applications in healthcare. Above, R. Gabe Linke, the 3D printing coordinator at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, shows guests a 3D-printed model of a newborn’s heart. Surgeons used the model to study abnormalities, and planned an eventually successful procedure to correct the problems.

 

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 4, 2016)—A panel of 3D printing experts convened Wednesday afternoon to discuss the potential impact the technology could have on healthcare and biomedical research.

The panel explored biomedical 3D printing applications that are currently possible, and examined some ground-breaking uses to come in the near-future. The panel also discussed the increased use and accessibility of 3D printing, not just for healthcare purposes but for everyone.

The best approach to get started in 3D printing is simply to dive right in. Buy an inexpensive consumer model and start experimenting, panelist Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D., told an estimated 68 onlookers.

 Panelists R. Gabe Linke (left) of Omaha's Children's Hospital and Medical Center and Jorge Zuniga (right) of UNO during the 3D-printing discussion Tuesday in the DRC auditorium.

Panelists R. Gabe Linke (left) of Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and Jorge Zuniga (right) of UNO during the 3D-printing discussion Tuesday in the DRC auditorium.

“For the holidays…get one of those cheap ones, and give it to your kid,” said Dr. Zuniga, who specializes in prosthetic research in UNO’s biomechanics department. “Then you’re going to learn how to use it… Download files and just print stuff…By doing this you’re going to understand the applications in your field, and how you can solve a problem. It’s not that complicated. You can learn this.”

Dr. Zuniga took a similar approach when he jumped headlong into 3D printing about five years ago. He had heard about a project in South Africa creating prosthetics for under-privileged children there. He was frustrated in his attempts to learn more about the program, so he created his own prosthetic.

Armed with little more than some borderline obsessive curiosity and open-source files available to anyone with an internet connection, he and his team created the “Cyborg Beast.” It’s an entirely 3D-printed prosthetic hand for children that looks like something out of a science fiction comic book.

Another panelist, Karen Linder, was another late entry into 3D printing, developing an interest in the area when she learned about a new ceramic printing process. She invested in the technology and helped create a new Omaha startup company, Tethon 3D, where she serves as the CEO. Tethon 3D specializes in a proprietary ceramics printing process that can then be fired in a kiln to create true porcelain objects—and with such intricate designs they would be extremely difficult or impossible to create by any other method.

Panelist and Tethon 3D CEO Karen Linder meets with guests immediately after the event.

Panelist and Tethon 3D CEO Karen Linder meets with guests immediately after the event.

“The resources are there, and the software is getting easier and easier,” she said, urging audience members to explore 3D printing, regardless of their knowledge-base. She added later: “You can learn at any age.”

But Linder’s key point was the potential 3D printing has for personalized or customized healthcare. She talked about the ability to print pills, which could include several medications. Instead of taking multiple pills, a patient in the future might be able to get the same medications with a single pill.

Although customized medications are still a few years away, Omaha Children’s Hospital and Medical Center is bringing personalized care to patients right now. Led by 3D printing coordinator R. Gabe Linke, Children’s uses MRI and CT scans to model patient hearts for 3D-printed replicas. Surgeons then study abnormalities, develop a plan and practice procedures on the models long before the patient enters the operating room.

Children’s doesn’t charge patients for the service, which they have been offering for less than a year, but the practice is already improving outcomes, Linke said.

Panelist and UNMC researcher Bin Duan, Ph.D., meets with guests immediately after the event.

Panelist and UNMC researcher Bin Duan, Ph.D., meets with guests immediately after the event.

UNMC researcher Bin Duan, Ph.D., rounded out the panel group. Dr. Duan heads UNMC bioprinting unit in the Regenerative Medicine Program in the Department of Internal Medicine. He’s working on using sophisticated printers that can use several different types of materials to create tissues suitable for human implantation. More specifically, he wants to create the complicated structures necessary for bone and cartilage implants that could be used to correct birth defects in the jaw.

Researchers elsewhere are working on ways to 3D-print other cellular structures such as organs and blood vessels, he said.

Co-sponsored by UNeMed Corporation, the UNMC 3D Makers Club and the McGoogan Library of Medicine, the 3D printing panel discussion was part of Innovation Week. Innovation Week is a series of events meant to highlight and celebrate the discoveries and creations of UNMC’s faculty, students and staff.

Three events remain for Innovation Week 2016.

Later today, UNeMed will host its fourth UNMC Technology Demonstration Day at 4 p.m. in the Michael F. Sorrell Center amphitheater. Dr. Zuniga will be among the featured presentations. All six speakers will explore startups and technologies developed at the university in short presentations intended for a non-expert audience. Presentations will be followed by a short reception.

Innovation Week wraps up Thursday, Oct. 6 with the iEXCEL Expo and the Innovation Awards.

The iEXCEL Expo is a hands-on display of some of the most advanced medical training tools in the world. It will be held in room 1012 at the Sorrell Center from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The Innovation Awards begins at 4 p.m. in the Durham Research Center I auditorium. UNeMed will honor all UNMC researchers, students and faculty who disclosed a new invention, secured a U.S. patent or licensed a technology in fiscal year 2016. An Innovator of the Year and the Most Promising New Invention of 2016 will also be named. UNeMed officials will also announce the winner of a free 3D printer.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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SBIR contract will fund study to prevent parasite infections

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Sam Sanderson, Ph.D.

Sam Sanderson, Ph.D.

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 5, 2016)—Prommune Inc. was recently awarded a federal contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for the development of vaccines to Toxoplasma gondii infections.

The two-year Phase I Small Business Innovation Research contract for $438,932 was awarded by NIAID (contract #HHSN272201600038C) to Prommune, an Omaha startup that spun out of research from Sam Sanderson, Ph.D., a research associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UNMC.

Dr. Sanderson founded Prommune around an immune stimulating peptide he and his team created. Early tests show the peptide, called EP67, has the ability to enhance a more robust natural immune response against infections.

“EP67 is a platform technology,” said Prommune CEO Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., “but with this contract we’ll begin to see the wider therapeutic potential of EP67.”

Prommune and Dr. Sanderson will partner with University of Nebraska at Omaha biology professor and T. gondii expert Paul Davis, Ph.D., to develop a possible vaccine against T. gondii infections.

An estimated 60 million in the U.S. are infected with T. gondii parasites, which is typically acquired from infected cats or eating undercooked meat. For most people, the infection goes unnoticed or presents only temporary flu-like symptoms. Healthy immune systems usually prevent the parasite from causing serious illness, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. But for people with weak or compromised immune systems an infection could lead to a serious condition called toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis occurs when the parasites create cysts within the body. The condition is particularly dangerous if the parasites end up in the brain where cysts can cause neurological and behavioral disorders, or even death. For pregnant women, a T. gondii infection could be transmitted directly to the fetus, creating an increased potential for birth defects. Contact with cat feces is one of the most common routes of transmission, which is why pregnant women are strongly advised against handling cat litter boxes.

Drs. Sanderson and Davis will look to prevent T. gondii infections using the EP67 peptide in the development of vaccines in the Phase I proof-of-concept round of testing. If successful, researchers will apply for Phase II, which would involve further process development leading to human clinical trials and FDA approval.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the USC 2304(b)(2) USC 253(b)(2), National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN272201600038C.

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Demo Day starts at 4 p.m. today

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demodayposter16finOMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 5, 2016)—Innovation Week continues this afternoon when the fourth annual UNMC Technology Demonstration Day begins at 4 p.m. in the Michael F. Sorrell Center’s amphitheater.

Demo Day will feature six biomedical startups and technologies that were either invented at the University of Nebraska Medical Center or are collaborations with UNMC researchers.

The presentations are planned to be short, 10-minutes explanations of the technologies in easy-to-understand terms that the non-expert can understand. Among the technologies to be highlighted are new therapeutic strategies for T. gondii infections, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure and neurodegenerative diseases. Other technologies include 3D printed prosthetic limbs, improved catheters, and a concussion detection platform.

More details about all presentations can be found here.

Demo Day is the final opportunity for UNMC faculty, students and staff to enter the 3D printer prize drawing. The drawing will be held during the Innovation Awards ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 6, and entrants must be present to win.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

All Innovation Week events are free and open to all.

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Today: Panel will discuss 3D printing in healthcare

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seminar2016OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 4, 2016)—Innovation Week continues today with a panel discussion about 3D printing in healthcare, what is possible today and what might be possible in the future.

The discussion will be held in the Durham Research Center auditorium, beginning at noon. Free pizza will be provided for the first 80 guests.

The scheduled panelists are: Tethon 3D CEO Karen Linder; UNO researcher and Cyborg Beast Founder Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D.; UNMC’s lead 3D bioprinting researcher Bin Duan, Ph.D.; and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center’s 3D printing coordinator R. Gabe Linke.

The panel discussion is part of Innovation Week, a series of events hosted by UNeMed Corporation as a celebration of the innovation and discovery that happens every year at UNMC.

microblackThe panel discussion is another opportunity for UNMC faculty, students and staff to enter the 3D printer prize drawing. The drawing will be held during the Innovation Awards ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 6, and entrants must be present to win.

On Wednesday, UNeMed will host its fourth annual UNMC Technology Demonstration Day in the Sorrell Center amphitheater at 4 p.m.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

All Innovation Week events are free and open to all.

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UNeMed releases 2016 annual report

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2016ar_300x376thumbOMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 5, 2016)—UNeMed released today its 2016 annual report for the fiscal calendar year.

The report marks the 25th anniversary for UNeMed Corporation, which was officially created on Sept. 11, 1991. The report also details UNeMed’s key metrics, and highlights notable successes and way points throughout its 25-year history as the technology transfer leader for the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

In an introduction letter President and CEO Michael Dixon, Ph.D., reflected on UNeMed’s long history, and saw signs that innovation at UNMC is on the rise. In 2012 UNMC researchers disclosed a record 106 new inventions. The record-breaking year was due to the increased national funding for biomedical research made possible by the American Recovery and Revitalization Act of 2009. When the stimulus funding package ended, UNMC’s federal research awards plummeted from a then-record $115.02 million in 2010 to a more pedestrian $79.7 million in 2011.

Then last year, UNMC secured a record $115.1 million in federal awards.

“This is not just an interesting data point from our history,” Dixon wrote in UNeMed’s 2016 annual report. “It illustrates what we think lies in wait for us…history tells me we’re in for more great things. Things that 10 or 15 years from now will change how we treat, diagnose and maybe even cure some of the biggest medical challenges we face today.”

In addition to the review of UNeMed’s history, the report also highlights several “featured current technologies” before diving into metrics from the previous fiscal year.

Among the more noteworthy metrics from 2016 is the number of agreements. In 2016 UNeMed set new company records for both material transfer and confidentiality agreements. Combined, UNeMed worked on 507 agreements, a 22 percent increase over 2015’s 417.

The largest single-year increase was in the opportunity category, which measures the “number of conversations UNeMed initiated with companies and investors interested in UNMC innovations.” In 2016, UNeMed claimed 153 opportunities, a 59 percent increase over the previous year.

UNeMed also saw a rise in the number new invention disclosures with 87, a 38 percent increase over the previous year.

The report can be viewed online, but printed copies are also available. Contact UNeMed to receive a free printed copy.

2016 Annual Report by UNeMed Corporation on Scribd

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Innovation Week kicks off today

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joonthego319x452OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 3, 2016)—Innovation Week officially begins this morning when UNeMed staffers host a kick-off event in the Durham Research Center atrium from 9-11 a.m.

The Innovation Week Kick-Off will feature the first opportunity for UNMC faculty, students and staff to enter a 3D printer prize drawing. The drawing is open to all UNMC faculty, students and staff who may enter the drawing at each Innovation Week event. The drawing will be held during the Innovation Awards ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 6, and entrants must be present to win.

The Kick-Off will also feature free pens, T-shirts and a chance to mingle with UNeMed staff. Jo-on-the-Go will also be on hand, providing complimentary espressos and smoothies to all attendees.

Innovation Week is a series of events hosted by UNeMed to celebrate and honor the innovations and discoveries at UNMC each year.

Innovation Week continues Tuesday, Oct. 4, with a panel discussion about 3D printing in healthcare. The panel discussion will begin at noon, and free pizza will be provided for the first 80 guests.

On Wednesday, UNeMed will host its fourth annual UNMC Technology Demonstration Day in the Sorrell Center amphitheater at 4 p.m.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

All Innovation Week events are free and open to all.

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UNeMed to give away free 3D printer

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innovationweek2016_webhead

 

OMAHA, Neb. (Sept. 30, 2016)—UNeMed Corporation, the technology transfer office at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, will give away a free M3D Micro 3D Printer Retail Edition during Innovation Week.

The M3D Micro, a small “starter” 3D printer, was rated the best 3D printer in its class by 3D Forged and Tom’s Guide.

microblackOpen to all UNMC students, faculty and staff, the drawing will be held during the Innovation
Awards Ceremony and Reception, which is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. in the Durham Research Center auditorium. The entrant must be present to win.

Innovation Week is a series of events hosted and sponsored by UNeMed as an annual showcase that honors and celebrates the innovative and ground-breaking research performed at UNMC. The week culminates with the Innovations Awards, which specifically recognizes those who submitted a new invention, licensed a technology or received a U.S. patent during the previous fiscal year.

UNeMed will also present two special awards to the Most Promising New Invention of 2016 and the Innovator of the Year.

UNMC faculty, students and staff can enter the drawing by attending any Innovation Week event. Every Innovation Week event represents an opportunity for an additional entry in the drawing.

Innovation Week kicks off Monday at 9 a.m. with an open house to meet UNeMed staff and grab freeT-shirts and other goodies. Jo-On-The-Go will also provide free coffee and smoothies.

Innovation Week continues Tuesday with a panel discussion seminar that will examine 3D printing applications in healthcare, both today and in the future. It will be held in the DRC auditorium at noon-1 p.m., and the first 80 guests will receive free pizza.

Demo Day will be held Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 4p.m. in the Sorrell Center amphitheater. It will feature six leading technologies that emanated from the research laboratories at UNMC and UNO. The technologies will be presented by researchers, company CEOs or startup founders in easy-to-understand 10-minute sessions intended for scientists and non-scientists alike. Demonstrations will be followed by a short reception with complimentary food and beverages.

Innovation Week concludes Thursday with the Awards Ceremony.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Panelists named for 3D printing discussion

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innovationweek2016_webhead

 

OMAHA, Neb. (Sept. 30, 2016)—Four local professional experts will participate in a public panel discussion about the current state of 3D printing and its potential for current and future healthcare applications, officials announced today.

seminar2016The panel discussion is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the Durham Research Center I auditorium. The one-hour conversation begins at noon, and lunch will be provided for the first 80 guests. University of Nebraska Medical Center personnel and students can also register to win a free 3D printer.

The scheduled panelists are Karen Linder, Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D., Bin Duan, Ph.D., and R. Gabe Linke.

Linder is the president and CEO of Tethon 3D, an Omaha startup that specializes in a proprietary method for 3D printing ceramics.

Dr. Zuniga is a researcher at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s world-class Biomechanics research facility. His primary focus is creating affordable and more widely accessible prosthetic limbs for children, largely through 3D printing. He is also the founder of Cyborg Beast, an open-source organization that provides free access to 3D printing files of prosthetic arms for children.

Dr. Duan leads UNMC’s new biomedical 3D printing team in the regenerative medicine program. He and his team are working on ways to 3D print bone and cartilage as a way to repair certain birth defects.

Linke is the 3D printing coordinator at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha. He often works with surgeons and physicians to 3D print a model of a specific child’s heart so a surgeon can practice a complicated surgical procedure long before the first incision.

The panel discussion is part of Innovation Week, a series of events hosted by UNeMed Corporation as a celebration of the innovation and discovery that happens every year at UNMC. UNeMed is the technology transfer and commercialization office at UNMC.

Innovation Week begins Monday at 9 a.m. during the Kick-Off, an open house where guests can grab a free T-shirt, coffee and other goodies.

demodayposter16finOn Wednesday, Oct. 5, UNeMed will host its fourth UNMC Technology Demonstration Day, beginning at 4 p.m. There, some of UNMC’s most promising early-stage companies and technologies will be highlighted in a series of short, easy-to-follow presentations.

There will also be an opportunity to tour UNO’s biomechanics facility on Wednesday, from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. And UNMC will show off some of the world’s most advanced medical training tools when the iEXCEL Expo gets underway at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Innovation Week concludes with the Innovation Awards Ceremony and Reception Thursday evening at 4 p.m. The awards are to honor all the UNMC faculty, students and staff who disclosed a new invention, received a U.S. patent or were inventors on a licensed technology during the previous fiscal year. UNeMed will announce the 2016 Innovator of the Year, and name the Most Promising New Invention of 2016.

microblackUNeMed will also draw the winner of a free 3D printer. Any UNMC student or staff member is eligible to enter the printer drawing by attending any Innovation Week event. Attending multiple Innovation Week events is the only way to enter the drawing multiple times, but they must be present at the drawing to win.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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UNMC innovation to be on display at Demo Day, Oct. 5

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UNMC Demo Day 2016 is Oct. 5

OMAHA, Neb. (Sept. 29, 2016)—Six biomedical startups and technologies will be on display at the UNMC Technology Demo Day in the Michael F. Sorrell Center amphitheater (MSC 3001) on Wednesday, Oct. 5, beginning at 4 p.m.

A part of UNeMed’s 2016 Innovation Week, Demo Day will feature six short presentations, and will examine some UNMC technologies and partnerships that are moving toward the marketplace.

The featured companies and technologies will be Orion BioScience, sympathetic vasomotion, Avert, Prommune Inc., Cyborg Beast and Chrysalis Medical.

All presentations will be tailored to the non-expert and will run approximately 10 minutes each. A short question and answer session will follow each presentation. After, there will be a short reception with complimentary food and drinks. There, guests will also have the opportunity to meet with the inventors, company executives, and members of Nebraska’s startup, venture capital and angel investor communities.

All Innovation Week events are free and open to all, but people may RSVP their intention to attend Demo Day here.

Josh Sestak, of Orion BioScience, is seen here during a presentation earlier this month in Washington D.C.

Josh Sestak. Ph.D.

The evening will begin with Josh Sestak, Ph.D., the Chief Scientific Officer for Orion BioScience. A Nebraska startup based on an innovation originally developed at the University of Kansas, Orion is an Omaha company working on a platform technology to treat autoimmune diseases.

Peter Pellegrino, a UNMC researcher, follows with his presentation of a promising early-stage sympathetic vasomotion technology that’s already attracting interest from industrial groups. The technology non-invasively measures the neural signals that regulate blood flow has applications related to high blood pressure, blood loss and neurodegenerative disease.

Also featured will be Avert’s ground-breaking concussion detection platform. The device works much like a bathroom scale, measuring the nearly imperceptible shifts a person makes while standing still. Those shifts create a pattern, and the pattern changes when a person suffers brain injury.

Calidum Chairman Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D., addresses a standing room only crowd during the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer's national demo day in Washington D.C. on Sept. 20, 2016. Calidum is developing a radiopharmaceutical invented at the University of Nebraska Medical Centert that could dramatically change how some cancers are diagnosed, monitored and treated.

Sam Al-Murrani, Ph.D.

CEO Sam Al-Murani will outline Prommune’s approach to boosting innate immune systems to fight disease and infection. Prommune’s platform technology delivers drugs to their intended target more efficiently and more effectively.

Cyborg Beast founder Jorge Zuniga, Ph.D., achieved some recent notoriety with the colorful prosthetic limbs he develops for children. One of his designs led to actor Robert Downey Jr. presenting a version of Zuniga’s cybernetic “Iron Man” hand to a Florida boy. His goal is to provide low-cost or even free prosthetics to children around the world, and he is expected to outline some his latest developments.

Finally, Chrysalis Medical, a California company using technology invented at UNMC, will discuss what it believes is a disruptive device for hemodialysis patients. Often, dialysis patients have catheters that become blocked with a fibrous build-up that forces clinicians to replace the catheter, at no small risk to the patient. This new device could eliminate that need to replace the catheter.

Innovation Week will continue Thursday at the iEXCEL Expo where some of the most advanced medical training tools in the world will be on display for hands-on interaction. The Expo begins at 11:30 a.m. in room 1012 of the Sorrell Center.

Innovation Week concludes Thursday evening at 4 p.m. in the Durham Research Center auditorium with the Innovation Awards. There, UNeMed will name the 2016 Innovator of the Year and the 2016 Most Promising New Invention. Officials will also draw for a free 3D printer, which can be won by any UNMC personnel or student who enter the drawing at any Innovation Week event. They must be present at the drawing in order to win, however.

Other Innovation Week events include an open house and a 3D printing panel discussion. The open house is 9-11 a.m. Monday in the DRC atrium, where there will be free T-shirts, snacks and other goodies. The panel discussion is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the DRC auditorium, beginning at noon. The panel will discuss the potential impact and uses of 3D printing in healthcare.

For more information about all 2016 Innovation Week events, go to http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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