Program to Help Commercialize Two Inventions

Jonsson School Engineering Projects Get Boost from UT System Awards

Dec. 2, 2008

Two inventions by UT Dallas engineers will each receive $50,000 in funding from a Texas program designed to spur the commercialization of technology and products developed by UT System researchers.

Both inventions are medical-related: One is designed to help kidney stone patients, and the other is intended to benefit patients who happen to budge while inside an MRI scanner.

By magnetizing kidney stones, the StoneMag Kidney Stone Magnetic Retrieval System is expected to enable surgeons to rapidly collect all stone fragments in a kidney, significantly reducing operation time, treatment costs and the effects of stone recurrences. The invention is expected to be a major player in the $1 billion urology device market.

The Optical Motion Tracker, on the other hand, tracks patient movement during MRI scans, making it possible to then correct for any movement and improve the precision of images and diagnoses.

“The optical motion tracking device would be a valuable, practical addition to the arsenal of techniques for high-resolution MRI,” according to Dr. A. Dean Sherry, director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “I also believe that this device, if it is delivered to market in a timely manner, will become the preferred solution across the high-field MRI community.”

Experts say patient movement is one of the primary impairments to taking full advantage of increases in MRI scanning resolution.

“We’re particularly pleased to receive two TIF (Texas Ignition Fund) awards given that these grants are awarded in a highly competitive environment,” said Robert Robb, UT Dallas associate vice president of technology commercialization and director of venture development in the University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “These technologies competed well among all applications submitted from within the UT system. Both are high-quality projects that are on a track to be applied for the public good.”

StoneMag resulted from a collaboration among Dr. Bruce Gnade, UT Dallas vice president for research and a professor of both materials science and engineering and chemistry; Stacey McLeroy, a UT Dallas graduate student; and two urology faculty at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Jeffery Cadeddu and Dr. Margaret Pearle.

The Optical Motion Tracker is the brainchild of Dr. Duncan MacFarlane, a professor of electrical engineering and associate dean for interdisciplinary programs at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas, and Dr. Richard Briggs, a professor of radiology at UT Southwestern.

The UT System’s $2 million TIF awards grants of $10,000 to $50,000. The funds can be used for personnel, equipment, supplies, business plans and, in some instances, faculty support and patent costs. The goal is to speed the commercialization process and, over time, to benefit Texas in both economic and broader terms. Nine awards were made in this third round of funding by the program, which has now supported 28 projects statewide.


Media Contacts: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Brain scan images

Dr. Duncan MacFarlane's invention compensates for patient movement, which is one of the primary impairments to taking full advantage of increases in MRI scanner resolution.

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