U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences


The U-M Medical School, in partnership with the the U-M Office of Technology Transfer, and the U-M Office of the Vice President for Research received a $2.4 million award in 2013 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help fund the U-M Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program (U-M MTRAC).

An integral part of the Medical School’s Strategic Research Initiative, U-M MTRAC provides translational research funding and resources to identify, nurture and “fast forward” projects with a high potential of commercial success. In addition to the MEDC funds, the U-M provides matching funds of $5.1 million to the program, for a total of $7.5 million over three years.

Over course of the program, UMMS faculty and the region will benefit from U-M MTRAC on many levels. As part of Strategic Research Initiative, projects funded by this program enhance the internal innovation pipeline for long-term success in commercialization.  And while invention reports and IP licensing will be among important milestones, positive impacts to human health – as well as job creation – will be the ultimate measures of success.

Questions? Contact U-M MTRAC Program Director Bradley Martin at 734-936-8577 or bradmart@med.umich.edu



What is the process for submission of proposals?

Proposals are due Monday, September 8, 2014. MTRAC is using UMMS Competition Space to manage the proposal submission process. Each proposal must have a Medical School Principal Investigator with efforted appointment from the Medical School. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of scientific -merit, potential health care impact and significance, the potential for commercialization, and the likelihood of obtaining further support. It is highly recommended to contact Commercialization Program Director Brad Martin (bradmart@umich.edu or 6-8577) to discuss your proposal before submission.

What kind of projects will be funded?

MTRAC provides resources to support translational U-M Medical School projects in the life sciences with high commercial potential. The program includes research funding for proof-of-concept and late-stage translational studies, regulatory guidance, business plan development and mentorship from industry and investment experts outside the University. The MTRAC funding will focused on 4 specific market segments, or “verticals”: devices,diagnosticstherapeutics and digital health/IT.

What will budgets for selected projects be like?

Project budgets depend on the scope of work and technology. Funds dispersed depend on achievement of prospectively agreed upon milestones, which are project specific.

Previously funded proposals range in budget from $48k to $188k for one year and included projects from all four market segments. You can learn more about previously awarded projects on the MTRAC website: http://medicine.umich.edu/medschool/research/office-research/innovation-business-development/investigators/u-m-mtrac/project-awards-2014 


What can the funding go toward?

Allowable budget expenditures include: salary and fringe benefits for project personnel, materials and supplies, equipment, travel and other (to be discussed with MTRAC staff on a case-by-case basis). Tuition support is not available through MTRAC for Life Sciences

Who will determine what projects are funded?

The U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences Oversight Committee comprises global biotech business experts, U-M leaders in translational science, and tech transfer experts.

The review process consists of multiple steps. 

  1. Proposals will be reviewed by an internal team of experts on intellectual property and technology commercialization. Projects which are not selected for further review will be provided with feedback.
  2. Review commitee will perform an intiial review of proposals, selecting those deemed to have significant commercial potential for an in-person presentation.
  3. Selected proposal teams will present their idea directly to the Oversight Committee.
  4. The Oversight Committee will select teams for funding in early January. 


What further role will the U-M MTRAC Oversight Committee play?

In addition to reviewing and selecting proposal awards, members of the Oversight Committee and their colleague networks serve an informal mentorship role to research teams as their projects progress. Members of the Oversight Committee may also choose to be the lead mentor for a specific project depending on need.

How does this relate to other commercially oriented funds and resources at the U-M?

Medical School Senior Associate Dean for Research Steve Kunkel, Ph.D., and Office of Technology Transfer Director Ken Nisbet, M.B.A., are the co-PIs of the U-M MTRAC award. Their organizations work closely sharing resources and expertise, in particular best practices from Biomedical Engineering’s Coulter Translational Research Partnership. In addition to Dr. Kunkel, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research Tom Shanley, M.D., serves as interim faculty lead for innovation and commercialization at the Medical School. U-M MTRAC also leverages lessons learned from other entrepreneurial organizations on campus such as the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship.