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WVU selected to partner with federal research entity to spark health innovation

A window with a white Flying WVU sticker on it is shown here with a peek through the blinds into a room where people are working.

WVU has been selected as one of only 127 entities to partner with a federal network within the National Institutes of Health to accelerate commercialization of medical innovations and breakthroughs. (WVU Photo)

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West Virginia University has been tapped to help accelerate commercialization of medical innovations by collaborating with a nationwide network within the National Institutes of Health.

WVU is one of just 127 entities, consisting of higher education institutions and private industry, to be named a spoke member — or partner — for the Investor Catalyst Hub, a regional hub of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. The University is the only member from West Virginia.

“ARPA-H is focused on developing and advancing cutting-edge health care technology,” said Erienne Olesh, executive director of the Office of Student and Faculty Innovation in the WVU Research Office. “WVU researchers will have the opportunity to create and advance diagnostics, therapeutics and leading health care technology that will directly benefit our community.”

ARPA-H’s overarching mission is to improve health outcomes through the following research focus areas: health science futures, proactive health, scalable solutions and resilient systems.

As a member of the hub, WVU will have access to potential funding and flexible contracting for faster award execution compared to traditional government contracts.

Olesh said WVU will also have opportunities to gain insight from other established medical research ecosystems and learn best practices for holistically advancing new health care technology.

“We will be able to tap into a wealth of knowledge and expertise that is represented through the spokes and are excited for the possibilities that will emerge from the ARPA-H partnerships,” Olesh said.

ARPA-H is a relatively new program, established in 2022 by the federal government to improve the ability to speed biomedical and health solutions. Potential technological advancements, listed among the goals of ARPA-H, could include cancer vaccines and pandemic preparedness. A proposal also recommends APRA-H focus on reducing health disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality and improve how medications can be taken.

“WVU understands the value of agencies like ARPA-H that are looking towards the future of technology development and pressing global needs,” Olesh said. “We want to use our designation to promote the assets we have at WVU and create new opportunities to partner with other research institutions to advance health care technology.”

Based in the Boston area and managed by VentureWell, the Investor Catalyst Hub will utilize an innovative hub-and-spoke model designed to reach a wide range of nonprofit organizations and minority-serving institutions, with the ultimate goal of delivering scalable health care outcomes for all Americans.

“Our spoke network embodies a rich and representative range of perspectives and expertise,” said Mark Marino, vice president of growth strategy and development for VentureWell and project director for the Investor Catalyst Hub. “Our spokes comprise a richly diverse network that will be instrumental in ensuring that equitable health solutions reach communities across every state and tribal nation.”



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