Summary of NMTB activities
In 1992, Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC), in Loma Linda, California, made a proposal to Congress to create the National Medical Technology Testbed (NMTB). The objective of NMTB would be to conduct a program that developed new medical technologies to improve health care. After this proposal was accepted by Congress, NMTB was formed as a department of the Medical Center as well as a private, non-profit, public-benefit organization. Since its inception, the Testbed has received annual appropriations from Congress to accomplish its objective.
NMTB, in conducting the program, does not itself perform the research or develop the technology. Rather, it identifies, evaluates, selects, and provides funding to researchers throughout the nation to accomplish their own research projects. Each year the National Medical Technology Testbed begins an award cycle by "broadcasting" a request for research proposals. It then convenes a panel of scientific, medical, and business experts to judge and score the research proposals that have been submitted. Based upon their scores and the amount of the annual federal appropriation, the board of directors approves the most worthy projects to receive the federal funding. Each approved award is executed by the administrative staff with a written research agreement, similar to a grant, between NMTB and the researcher's institution or company. During the program, 183 awards have been executed to accomplish 110 different research projects at 68 institutions and companies throughout the United States.
The federal funding for the NMTB program is provided through a cooperative agreement with the United States Army. The cooperative agreement requires NMTB to capture the proceeds, including royalties of the commercialization of any and all research sponsored under the cooperative agreement, and to use such proceeds to endow a revolving fund to be administered by NMTB in conducting further research. Therefore, NMTB's award agreements with the institutions it is funding require the recipients of the funding to make reasonable efforts to commercialize the technology being developed (e.g., through licensing or product sales) and to agree to share with NMTB the revenues received from this commercialization. So far, seven projects have generated income through licensing or product sales. Two other projects have "deployed" the technology, but have not yet received income.
The following technology has been produced:
- An automated retinal imaging system by a company in Arizona.
- A hyperspectral fundus imager by a company in New Mexico.
- A diagnostic assay kit by a university in Southern California.
- Medical manual search and retrieval software by a university in Northern California.
- A mobile pupillometer by a company in Maryland.
- A battlefield medical information system by an Army agency.
- A tissue banking information system by a university in Pennsylvania.
- A software module for a trauma patient simulator by an institution in North Carolina.
- Signal processing diagnostic aids for cardiac evaluation by a university in Maryland.
Although the National Medical Technology Testbed will close in July of 2006, the research and technology development it has sponsored will continue to have positive impact on our nation's health-care system.
Acknowledgement: The NMTB program is sponsored by the Department of the Army under Cooperative Agreement DAMD17-97-2-7016. The information being hereby released does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.