Research Foundation News

April 5, 2018

NIH awards MR-Link $228,325 to advance development of its magnetic resonance-compatible bio-recording system

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University-affiliated startup that is developing an affordable device to allow researchers and medical professionals to conduct MRI scans with increased efficiency, has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

MR-Link LLC of West Lafayette has secured the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant of $228,325. The goal of the program is to use federal funds to support scientific excellence and increase private sector commercialization of technological innovation.

“This grant is validation for us that our idea is on the right track and there is a need for these kind of technologies that may help researchers to understand human physiology more accurately,” said Ranajay Mandal, one of three MR-Link co-founders.

The coin-sized device works simultaneously with an MRI system to record electro-physiological signals and perform various imaging scans. The device allows researchers to record, stimulate and image the brain and other organs in synchronization the MRI system, allowing them and in the future, medical professionals, to understand patient's physiology more effectively.

The company was founded by Mandal, a graduate student in Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering; Nishant Babaria, a graduate student in the Purdue School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Zhongming Liu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. The company is scheduled to open offices later this month in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, which is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation and is the largest university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country.

MRI link MR-Link is a Purdue-affiliated startup that is developing a coin-sized, affordable device that can be inserted into existing MRI machines to allow researchers and medical professionals to perform multiple imaging scans at once. The devise has potential to significantly improve the safety, efficacy and precision of medical diagnostics for patients who suffer from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and many more diseases. Download image

More than a thousand startups nationwide applied for Phase I STTR grants. MR-Link was one of only 169 startups to receive funding. A total of 32 startups from Indiana applied for STTR funding this fiscal year and MR-Link was the only one selected.

“We will use this funding to further develop our device and software into a user-friendly system, so that MR-Link can begin to distribute its beta testing units to MRI researchers,” Babaria said. “We hope to also use the money to enrich our research team with new professionals to help us package the software and hardware.”

The researchers say the device has great potential to significantly improve the safety, efficacy and precision of medical diagnostics for patients who suffer from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression and many other diseases. They also say it is more affordable than other options and could eliminate health risks and provide better imaging.

The researchers will be presenting their research in June at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in Paris. A video about MR-Link is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWFPBTyX2B8.

Technology used by MR-Link has been licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. MR-Link plans to target the research market before moving into the clinical market.

“We are open to partnerships with other laboratories and device manufacturers so we could soon deliver devices to more people and to benefit their research and to hopefully soon deliver to clinicians for them to better treat patients,” Liu said.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders And Stroke of the National Institutes of Health and Elevate Ventures.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at innovation@prf.org.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Tom Coyne, 765-588-2044, tjcoyne@prf.org

Sources:   Ranajay Mandal, rmandal@purdue.edu

Nishant Babaria, nbabaria@purdue.edu

Zhongming Liu, zmliu@purdue.edu

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