BME Fetes Program on 100th Anniversary of Coulter’s Birth
By Mark Dwortzan
A blood glucose control system that could dramatically improve quality of life for people with type 1 diabetes. A user-friendly, low-cost technology that could screen for counterfeit and substandard medicines in resource-limited countries. A disposable, more accurate diagnostic tool for thyroid cancer that could significantly reduce needless surgeries and healthcare costs.
Since 2006, these and dozens of other advances have been funded, in part, by the Boston University-Coulter Translational Partnership (BU-CTP) program, a joint effort between the Biomedical Engineering Department and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation to support collaborations between BME researchers and clinicians seeking to upgrade patient care through technological innovation. On February 27,
the BME Department convened a special poster session and dinner in the BU Trustees Ballroom to celebrate the program as part of the Foundation’s yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of Wallace H. Coulter’s birth.
Drawing 140 guests including BME faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, BU Office of Technology Development staff, and representatives of the Coulter Foundation, the gathering highlighted the societal impact of biomedical technologies supported by the BU-CTP program and featured several posters describing funded projects.
“The BU-Coulter Translational Partnership represents a very significant investment by the Coulter Foundation in the BME department, and has helped transform the culture and infrastructure available within both BME and the University to support translational research,” said BME chair and professor Solomon Eisenberg. “The program is structured to support translational research collaborations between biomedical engineers and clinicians in order to accelerate the successful commercial translation of appropriate innovations so that they can improve patient care.”
BU-CTP-funded projects are supported and mentored by a team of professionals that provide guidance and expertise in commercializing biomedical technology. The program also seeks to foster and support a culture of translational research across the University, to create educational opportunities in translational research for BU students, and to further the development of the field of biomedical engineering.
The celebration also explored the impactful work of Wallace H. Coulter, the inventor of the Coulter Principle, which became the reference method for counting and
sizing microscopic particles suspended in a fluid, and led to one of today’s most common medical diagnostic tests: the complete blood count. Coulter studied electrical engineering, and had a passion for applying engineering principles to scientific research serving humanity, as evidence by his 85 patents. Since 2005, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation has funded more than 200 translational projects based on engineering-clinical collaborations at 16 universities across the country.
Mara Neal, the Coulter Foundation’s director for Research Awards, presented a short video at the event that depicted Coulter’s life and legacy, and shared additional stories and vignettes about Coulter.