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Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows program expands to bring in more innovators

Arundhati Parmar

The Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows program at the University of Minnesota is doubling in size, thanks to a $280,000 grant from the Maslowski Family Charitable Trust.

The university announced earlier this week that starting in September, eight fellows will be selected to build new innovative medical devices, compared with four fellows who were chosen in previous years. The intensive, one-year training program began in 2008 to bring mid-career professionals from backgrounds as diverse as engineering, biosciences and medicine to create new innovations in healthcare.

Since its inception, one startup — Aria CV, which is developing an implantable device to treat pulmonary hypertension — has been created. Another startup — Labyrinth — was created but is currently dormant, said Arthur Erdman, director of the Medical Devices Center.

“The Innovation Fellows program has been a great success,” Erdman said. “We are averaging 15 invention disclosures per year.”

Erdman noted that the program has typically selected fellows who are either M.Ds. or Ph.Ds., but given that more fellows will now be selected, he expects some master’s students to be part of future programs as well. Fellows are chosen following a national search.

The Innovation Fellows program was previously led by Marie Johnson, who left earlier this year to devote her time to building her company AUM Cardiovascular. A replacement will be named shortly, Erdman said.

“We are super excited to be able to double our program,” Erdman said. “It’s a great gift from the foundation.”

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