researcher looking through a microscope


Seed Grants

The Penn State Biodevices Seed Grant Program supports collaborations among engineers, scientists, and clinicians. Supported projects focus on biodevices to improve human and animal health, such as implantable, surgical, and wearable devices, as well as environmental sampling and monitoring devices. Seed grants provide teams with funds to generate preliminary data for co-author publications and external grant submissions or to demonstrate feasibility/develop a prototype of a new biodevice.

Applications are considered every spring. Please view the 2024 call for applications for more information.

2023 Biodevices Seed Grant Awardees:

  • Greg Lewis/Vishal MongaAI-based medical image segmentation for 3D patient-specific surgical planning
  • Mohammad-Reza Tofighi/Dino Ravnic: Non-invasive blood perfusion device to reduce flap failure
  • Krista Wilkinson/Syed Billah: Developing Biodevices with Embodied Interactions to Empower People with Complex Communication Needs
  • Julian Wang/Ying-Ling Jao: Wearable Sensor Development for Individualized Indoor Comfort and Circadian Health Monitoring 

2022 Biodevices Seed Grant Awardees:

  • Seyed Alireza Mansouri/Daniel Hayes: Nanoparticle-miRNA based Photodynamic Therapy and Metabolic Imaging for Glioblastoma
  • Aida Ebrahimi/Jasna Kovac: Label-free and Rapid Bacterial ID and AST with Intelligent Dynamic Holographic Laser Speckle Imaging and Raman Spectroscopy
  • Amanda Nelson/Martin de Jesus Nieto-Perez: Low-cost, flexible, physical-plasma devices for treatment of inflammatory skin conditions
  • Nicole Streeper/Juli Simon: Supplemental oxygen to improve kidney stone detection with ultrasound

2021 Biodevices Seed Grant Awardees:

  • Novel single incision, free motion laparoscopic surgical system
    Jason Moore, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Joshua Winder, staff physician; Randy Haluck, staff physician; and Paris Von Lockette, associate professor of mechanical engineering.
  • High-throughput bioprinting of islets for fabrication of pancreatic devices for Type 1 diabetes
    Ibrahim Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics and biomedical engineering; Thomas Samson, associate professor of plastic surgery; Francesco Costanzo, professor of engineering science and mechanics, mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering; Douglas Cavener, professor of biology; and Srinivas Koduru, assistant professor of surgery.

2020 Biodevices Seed Grant Awardees:

  • Rapid measurement of concussion-related saliva microRNA with a novel biodevice
    Co-Principal Investigator: Steve Hicks, Pediatrics
    Co-Principal Investigator: Weihua Guan, Electrical Engineering
    Co-Investigator: Eric Schaefer, Public Health Sciences
  • Biodegradable artificial urinary sphincter
    Co-Principal Investigator: Huanyu Cheng, Engineering Science and Mechanics
    Co-Principal Investigator: Qing Wang, Material Science and Engineering
    Co-Investigator: Jian Yang, Biomedical Engineering
    Co-Investigator: Joe Littlejohn, Surgery

Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine Grants

The Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine grants are intended to support projects that create or capitalize upon opportunities for new applications of engineering to problems in the life sciences and medicine. The program is designed to encourage genuine collaborations between engineers and clinicians or biomedical scientists that involve either new avenues of research or the feasibility testing of new medical devices, instrumentation, or other diagnostic or therapeutic modalities.

The Grace Woodward Grants for Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine are supported by generous endowments to the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine from the estate of Grace Woodward. Applications are considered every spring. Please view the 2024 call for applications for more information.

2023 Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine Grant awardees:

  • Yuguo Lei/Michael Aynardi: Immunotherapy for Charcot neuroarthropathy: a proof-of-concept study in mice

2021 Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine Grant Awardees:

  • New radiofrequency ablation procedure for facet joint pain
    Daniel Cortes, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Vitaly Gordin, staff physician of pain medicine; Jason Moore, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Thomas Neuberger, associate research professor and director of the High Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility.
  • Gastric vagal stimulation to reduce adverse behavioral outcomes of gastric bypass
    Mehdi Kiani, associate professor of electrical engineering, and Andras Hajnal, professor of neural and behavioral sciences.

2020 Grace Woodward Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine Grant Awardees:

  • Biomechanics study toward patient-specific implants for osteoarthritic shoulders
    Co-Principal Investigator: Jing Du, Mechanical Engineering
    Co-Principal Investigator: April Armstrong, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation
    Co-Investigator: Greg Lewis, Orthopaedics
  • Development and validation of a multimodal endoscopy system for early diagnosis of image-guided surgery of pancreatic cancer
    Co-Principal Investigator: Raj Kothapalli, Biomedical Engineering
    Co-Principal Investigator: Gail Matters, Pharmacology
    Co-Investigator: Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Materials Science and Engineering

Center for Biodevices Innovation Grants

The Center for Biodevices (CfB) Innovation Grant program supports design and prototyping through mentorship of undergraduate capstone design teams. Applications should focus on proof-of-concept prototyping for advancing biodevice technologies and/or translating research to existing and start-up companies. Please see the September 2023 request for applications for more information.

Innovation Fellows Program

The Innovation Fellowship at the Penn State College of Medicine is a 12-month, non-clinical program that admits multiple fellows per year on a competitive basis. Funding for this pilot program is provided by the Peter and Ann Tombros Endowment for the Penn State Center for Medical Innovation.

  • The Innovation Fellows program provides:
    • 20% salary coverage for the postdoc to the PI or faculty mentor’s department, allowing for 20% dedicated time for the intended purposes of this fellowship
    • Monthly seminars on a variety of technology development and commercialization topics
    • Monthly group meetings with the innovation team and other fellow
    • Entry into the NIH-funded I-Corps@NCATS program – PI/mentor participation is required
    • Experienced industry mentor

CMI Pathways Program

The goal of the CMI Pathways Program is to strengthen the development of medical innovations at Penn State College of Medicine through a team-based approach that addresses downstream requirements, including intellectual property, regulatory and reimbursement issues, and business case development to facilitate the technology’s transition to the private sector and the formation of startup companies. To support these efforts, the CMI Pathways Program introduced two new funding mechanisms, the Proof of Concept Award and the Innovation Accelerator Award.

  • Purpose: milestone-driven development of technologies for market entry

  • Segments: therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, digital health

  • Proof of Concept Seed Fund (Early Stage)

    • Technologies in an early stage of the commercialization pipeline

    • Goal: Test a promising concept, obtain compelling data to secure follow-on funding

    • Funding: up to $75K for 1 year

  • Innovation Accelerator Seed Fund (Later Stage)

    • Technologies in an advanced stage of the commercialization pipeline?

    • Goal: Complete the pivotal study with associated data to attract potential licensee

    • Funding: up to $100K for 1 year?

  • Multidisciplinary collaborations & industry partnerships are highly encouraged

Federal Funding: Academic - Industrial Partnerships

Federal funding: Inter-Agency

Federal Funding: Additional Open Opportunities

  • HEAL Initiative

    • Device-based clinical therapies for pain relief

    • interdisciplinary research teams, multiple PIs

    • investigate the mechanism of action of pain relief

  • Blueprint MedTech

    • Devices to diagnose/treat nervous system disorders

    • Support of innovators through access to experts and resources related to animal testing, manufacturing, regulatory, IP, commercialization, etc. 

Contact Us

Faculty or industry members who are interested learning how to join the Center for Biodevices may contact Mary Frecker, Center for Biodevices Director, at



Established in 2020, the Center for Biodevices aims to bridge foundational science and clinical applications of biodevices, while enabling success of faculty, clinicians, and students across multiple disciplines.

Center for Biodevices

The Pennsylvania State University

Reber Building

University Park, PA 16802