Kansas University is receiving an $8.1 million grant from the Ewing Kauffman Foundation to form a group that will help advance life science medical discoveries.
The funds will be used by KU to establish the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation, described as a “life science proof of concept” model supported by higher education, philanthropy and industry experts.
In addition, the KU Endowment Association will enhance the Kauffman gift with a matching grant through contributions from other donors. The grant announcements were made Monday.
“The University of Kansas and Kauffman Foundation share a commitment to innovation and a mission of service to the community,” KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said. “This generous grant will help us find new treatments and cures and get them to the patients who need them.”
Hemenway’s comments were echoed by Scott Weir, director of the office of therapeutics, discovery and development at KU’s Cancer Center. Weir will head the institute as director. He also serves on the pharmaceutical advisory board to the Institute for Pediatric Innovation (IPI), which has been earmarked for funding through the grant. It is a separate entity from KU.
The grant includes funds for up to 24 feasible projects per year. IPI already has identified three drug projects that will benefit from the institute.
The institute’s formation represents lessons culled from years of studying models that strengthen the ability to bring new inventions and products to market, said Carl Schramm, Kauffman Foundation president and chief executive.
“We believe the institute will become a world-class resource and help define best practices in moving innovation to the real world,” Schramm said.
The institute will focus on education and research that advances medical innovations, intended to accelerate the number and quality of drugs, medical devices and drug-medical device combinations for patients.
“It’s different programs being synergized together to streamline and facilitate the process to get new discoveries to patients,” said Erica Brown, communications director at the KU Cancer Center. “This is actually the next level of evolution of what we’re going with drug discovery development.”
KU Endowment is proud to partner with the Kauffman Foundation on the project as well as attracting other donors for the institute, the association’s president, Dale Seuferling, said.
The grant will also help faculty educate the next class of drug and medical development specialists by giving workshops and courses on the drug commercialization process, according to KU officials.
— Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.