Coulter Awards

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COLUMBIA - Six years after being one of the first 16 schools to incorporate the Coulter Awards, MU has become the first school in the nation to fully fund the awards internally. 

The Coulter Award is a grant given to projects at the University designed to accelerate academic health care innovations by helping biomedical researchers turn their projects into real products and services that can improve patient care. 

"What's really unique about the Coulter award is that it's directly applicable to getting the technology to the market to help patients," Coulter Award winner Dr. James Cook said. 

Dr. Cook, along with partner Dr. Trent Guess, won two of the five Coulter awards this year, one for a simpler solution to fix stiff knees and another for an easy-to-use tool for accurate screening, diagnosis and treatment of knee ligament injuries.

"Understanding that we're going for a practical solution in real life, that's a unique thing that drives [the project] forward faster, and makes it to the ultimate fruition that it's after," Dr. Cook said. 

Coulter Award winners receive a grant this year to help their project, but the Coulter program keeps with the projects all the way until they reach market or research is discontinued.

"Once a Coulter project, always a Coulter project," MU Coulter Program Director Cynthia Helphingstine said. "Even projects that were funded in the first year, we're still working with those people until either we get that technology licensed to a company, a startup that can raise money, or until we get it into the hands of an industry partner that can continue the commercialization."

This was the first year MU involved students in the decision process of selecting Coulter Award winners as part of a marketing class. One of the students, William Galvin, said the class was extremely valuable preparing him for a job like this in the future.

"This class has been of the upmost value to me because it's really given me a comprehensive view on the medical industry as a whole," Galvin said. "It's really laid the foundation and given me the inspiration to keep working towards this goal of getting my dream career and my dream job."

The grants total $409,000 to be distributed to the five awarded projects.