Dayanjan Wijesinghe (left) and Thomas Roper

Emergency room medicine is challenging enough without having to guess what drugs a patient may be taking. Dayanjan Wijesinghe, an assistant professor in VCU’s Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, is trying to change that by developing a tool that scans patients’ blood to help avoid dangerous interactions.

The project is one of two VCU/CCALS collaborative projects that earned a Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) grant this year via a joint application with CCALS. For the second project, VCU professor Thomas Roper of the Department of Chemical and Life Sciences Engineering and his team are developing a secure automated refrigeration system for temperature-sensitive medications.

Dr. Roper has finished preliminary engineering studies for his project, and is starting to determine the project’s commercial viability. “I’m grateful to CIT – they were great to deal with when we submitted our application, and have been very helpful to us in understanding how to best succeed with this project,” he said.

To see how the project can save hospitals money, the team needed an understanding of medical supply chain logistics – something Dr. Roper said CCALS was happy to broker. “Underpinning all of this is logistical and supply chain studies. That’s the value of having partners like CCALS. They have been integral to this because they have access to the expertise we needed. Part of making this marketable is making sure that we have a good set of benchmarks in place so that hospitals can apply them to their own situation and see what the savings will be.”

Next steps will be two stages of prototypes, a field trial, and then a small company formed to bring the concept to market.

The emergency room medication reconciliation project is also ending its first phase. “We have ordered our standards and are looking at patterns and retention time – building our library, essentially,” said Dr. Wijesinghe. Once this phase is complete, the project will move into a second phase, testing those benchmarks in plasma to adjust the parameters, and then into the final phase of testing using about 350 actual plasma samples.

“We are very pleased with our progress,” said Dr. Wijesinghe. “This would never have happened without CCALS help in applying for the grant. What CCALS is doing is great – helping move technology from research into the field.”

Both projects received funding from a CIT acceleration program, the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF), that supports promising technology research and commercialization in Virginia’s private sector, academia and nonprofit research institutes.

CRCF submissions undergo a rigorous review process that includes evaluation by subject matter experts, recommendations from the Research and Technology Investment Advisory Committee, and finally selection by the CIT Board. The awards contribute strategically to the Commonwealth’s economic development.

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