Frankel Innovation Initiative

The Frankel Innovation Initiative is a $20 million fund supporting the research and development of life-saving therapies and innovative new technologies at Michigan Medicine, with the ultimate goal of improving healthcare and saving lives.

Made possible by a generous donation from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, the program seeks to advance innovative research by U-M faculty and provide a fast path to patient impact. It builds on the best practices of the standout programs developed at U-M and other top institutions and capitalizes on U-M’s extensive biomedical research enterprise. Collaborative projects that engage nationally renowned Co-PIs at other institutions are especially encouraged. FFMI is administering the fund.

Open to innovators at all stages of a research project, the Frankel Innovation Initiative offers:

  • $250,000 – $500,000/year to high-impact research projects originating at U-M, with potential for multiple years of support
  • Expertise and guidance from an Advisory Committee consisting of world-renowned scientists and technology development professionals
  • No cost share requirement

Letters of Intent are evaluated on the basis of eligibility and fund appropriateness. After Letters of Intent are reviewed by a triage committee, a select group of faculty will be invited to submit a full proposal for review by the Scientific Advisory Committee for funding consideration.

2022 Awardees

The Frankel Innovation Initiative recently awarded $1.39 million to three biomedical research projects in the third round of the initiative. One project from the second-year awardees received three months of additional funding. The winning projects are:

Investigator Co-Applicant(s) Vertical Proposal Title Notes
Molly Stout, M.D., MSCI
U-M – Health Obstetrics & Gynecology
Methodius Tuuli, M.D., M.P.H.
Brown University Obstetrics & Gynecology
Peinan Zhao, Ph.D.
Washington University at St. Louis Obstetrics & Gynecology
Device Fully Quantitative Elastography to Predict Preterm Birth Funded until Dec. 2022; was part of Year 2
James Moon, Ph.D.
U-M – Biomedical Engineering and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Yu Leo Lei, D.D.S., Ph. D
U-M School of Dentistry
Steven Chinn, M.D., M.P.H.
U-M Health Otolaryngology
Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph. D.
U-M Health Surgery
Therapy New STING agonist nanoparticle for immune-oncology Funded for all of Y3; new project
David Markovitz, M.D.
U-M Health Internal Medicine-Infectious Diseases
Marina Pasca di Magliano, Ph.D.
U-M Health Surgery & U of M Cell and Development Biology
Wenjing Wang, Ph.D.
U-M Chemistry
Malcolm Brenner, Ph.D.
Baylor Medicine and Pediatrics Hematology/Oncology
Richard Dale Cumming, Ph.D.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Surgical Sciences
Joseph M. Penninger, M.D., Ph.D.
University of British Columbia Medical Genetics
Therapy Sweet CARS: Attacking Glycans to Treat Pancreatic Cancer Funded for all of Y3; new project
Vishwaratn Asthana, M.D., Ph.D.
U-M Health Internal Medicine
J. Scott VanEpps, M.D., Ph.D.
U-M Health Emergency Medicine
Device Development of A Rapid, Low-Cost, Universal Bacterial Identification System to Improve Outcomes in Patients with Sepsis Funded for all of Y3; new project

The Frankel Innovation Initiative is designed to build on best practices of the standout programs developed at U-M and other top institutions, and capitalizes on U-M’s extensive biomedical research enterprise as the top public university in research spending in the United States.

2021 Awardees

Investigator Co-Applicant(s) Vertical Proposal Title
Paul Cederna, M.D.
U-M – Surgery
Cynthia Chestek, Ph.D.
U-M – Biomedical Engineering
Device Bringing Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interfaces for Prosthetic Hand Control Home
CLICK HERE to listen to Dr. Cederna on WJR radio.
CLICK HERE to read an article on Dr. Cederna’s research.
David Humes, M.D.
U-M – Nephrology
Stuart Goldstein, M.D., FAAP, FNKF
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – Nephrology
Device Immunomodulatory Device to Treat Pediatric Patients with Severe Sepsis and/or Multiorgan Failure
Aditya S. Pandey, M.D.
U-M – Neurosurgery
Albert Shih, Ph.D.
U-M Mechanical Engineering
Device Miniature Mechanical Thrombectory Device for Removal of High Fibrin Clots in Brain Arteries
Alvaro Rojas-Pena, M.D.
U-M – Surgery
Robert Bartlett, M.D.
U-M – Surgery
Device The Frankel Organ Bank
CLICK HERE to listen to Dr. Bartlett on WJR radio.
Ariella Shikanov, Ph.D.
U-M – Biomedical Engineering
Molly Moravek, M.D., M.P.H., MSCI
U-M – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Device Immuno-isolating Capsule for Delivery of Cell-based Therapy for Restoration of Ovarian Endocrine Function
CLICK HERE to listen to Dr. Shikanov on WJR radio.
Molly Stout, M.D., MSCI
U-M – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Methodius Tuuli, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
Brown University – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Peinan Zhao, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Device Fully Quantitative Elastography to Predict Preterm Birth

2020 Awardees

Investigator Co-Applicant(s) Vertical Proposal Title
Paul Cederna, M.D.
U-M – Surgery
Cynthia Chestek, Ph.D.
U-M – Biomedical Engineering
Device Bringing Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interfaces for Prosthetic Hand Control Home
David Humes, M.D.
U-M – Nephrology
Stuart Goldstein, M.D., FAAP, FNKF
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – Nephrology
Device Immunomodulatory Device to Treat Pediatric Patients with Severe Sepsis and/or Multiorgan Failure
Alvaro Rojas-Pena, M.D.
U-M – Surgery
Robert Bartlett, M.D.
U-M – Surgery
Device The Frankel Organ Bank
Molly Stout, M.D., MSCI
U-M – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Methodius Tuuli, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
Indiana University – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Peinan Zhao, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Device Fully Quantitative Elastography to Predict Preterm Birth

Frequently Asked Questions

Frankel Innovation Initiative awards are made once a year, with Letters of Intent due in May. Application submission and review will be conducted using the University of Michigan Medical School’s Competition Space. Letters of Intent will be evaluated on the basis of eligibility and fund appropriateness. It is highly recommended to contact Keith Gran, CPA, MBA, Chief Patient Experience Officer and Executive Director of the Frankel Innovation Initiative, at kgran@umich.edu or 734-232-4098 or DeAnn Yoder, Project Manager, at dvansick@umich.edu, to discuss your project before submission.

The Frankel Innovation Initiative provides a fast path to patient impact through resources that support life-saving therapies at Michigan Medicine. Innovations at all stages of a research project are encouraged. The program is open to primary investigators (PIs) at the U-M Medical School, and other investigators outside of U-M on a collaborative basis. Collaborative projects that engage nationally renowned Co-PIs at other institutions are especially encouraged to apply.

Project budgets depend on the scope of work and technology. Funds dispersed depend on achievement of prospectively agreed upon milestones, which are project specific. Funding will range from $250k-$500k per year, with the potential for multiple years of funding. Please note that no indirect costs are associated with this award. Contact Keith Gran, CPA, MBA, Chief Patient Experience Officer and Executive Director of the Frankel Innovation Initiative, at kgran@umich.edu or 734-232-4098 or DeAnn Yoder, Project Manager, at dvansick@umich.edu, for details related to budgets.

Allowable budget expenditures include: salary and fringe benefits for project personnel, materials and supplies, contracted research (if required), travel and other relevant costs directly related to advancing the project (to be discussed with Frankel Innovation Initiative staff on a case-by-case basis). Budgets should be primarily allocated to the conduct of research and achievement of milestones. Proposals will be partially evaluated on the appropriateness of project budget.

The Frankel Innovation Initiative Scientific Advisory Committee comprises global biotech business experts as well as internationally prominent scientists who have deep expert knowledge. The review process consists of multiple steps. A review team, including representatives from the FII Scientific Advisory Committee, performs an initial review of Letters of Intent, selecting projects to submit a full proposal. Full proposals are then reviewed by the full FII Scientific Advisory Committee, who select those that have significant clinical potential for an in-person presentation. Projects which are not selected for further review are provided with feedback. The selected project teams then present their project directly to the FII Scientific Advisory Committee at the committee’s annual meeting in Ann Arbor in September, and awards are granted shortly thereafter.

In addition to reviewing and selecting proposal awards, members of the FII Scientific Advisory Committee and their colleague networks serve in an informal mentorship role to research teams as their projects progress.

QUESTIONS?

Have questions about the Frankel Innovation Initiative? Contact Keith Gran, CPA, MBA, Chief Patient Experience Officer and Executive Director of the Frankel Innovation Initiative, at kgran@umich.edu or 734-232-4098 or DeAnn Yoder, Project Manager, at dvansick@umich.edu.

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