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Biomedical endowment supports Duke program for launching new healthcare businesses

Frank Vinluan

Duke University has established a new $20 million biomedical endowment to support a program that has had a knack for launching new medical companies, focusing in particular on medical technology.

The new endowment will allow the program to continue at Duke in perpetuity.

Duke was one of nine universities chosen by the Coulter Foundation in 2005 to accelerate technology transfer of university biomedical engineering projects into commercial products and clinical practices. Since then, 19 Duke projects have been funded in areas such as detecting prostate cancer and esophageal pre-cancerous lesions, treating hemophilia and controlling urinary function for paraplegics.

The endowment was created by Duke and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, which contributed $10 million. Additional financial support comes from the university and the Fitzpatrick Foundation.

According to Duke, the previous projects have resulted in three startup companies, several licensing agreements, more than $35 million in venture capital and investments, and another $47 million in federal, state or foundation grants.

The late Wallace H. Coulter, benefactor of the foundation that bears his name, was a serial innovator and entrepreneur. He founded Miami, Florida-based medical diagnostics company Coulter Corporation, now part of Beckman Coulter (NYSE:BEC). Coulter Corporation developed several innovations for hematology and laboratory medicine, including the Coulter Principle, a method for counting and sizing microscopic particles suspended in fluid that led to automation and quick analysis of complete blood counts.

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