Commercialization Leadership from CIMIT Helps PharmaChk Receive $2M Grant

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Commercialization leadership from CIMIT helps PharmaChk receive prestigious $2M Transition-to-Scale Grant from the Saving Lives at Birth Partnership for continued development and scaling of a novel device to detect counterfeit and substandard drugs.

CIMIT, the Consortia for Improving Medicine with Innovation & Technology, is proud to have facilitated Boston University’s PharmaChk team ( in helping to secure $2M grant from Saving Lives At Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development ( PharmaChk is a device to detect counterfeit and substandard drugs. The Transition-to-Scale grant will help advance development and commercialization efforts to demonstrate the impact of the technology at scale, particularly for use in developing countries. CIMIT joined the PharmaChk team and led the efforts to develop a commercialization and scale-up plan.

Poor-quality medicines have significant detrimental effects on global public health, but particularly in poorer, developing geographies. Hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths occur each year due to substandard or counterfeit drugs and current techniques to ensure drug quality are expensive, slow and complicated. In late 2013, PharmaChk was named one of Scientific American’s ten world changing ideas ( and the low-cost, portable device could have a significant positive impact on the safety of medicines globally.

Under the direction of Dr. Muhammad Zaman, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at Boston University, the PharmaChk team is developing a user-friendly, accurate, cost-effective and portable system that analyzes substandard medicines by quantifying active pharmaceutical ingredients and the release kinetics.

“The ability to screen for potential quality problems in medicines could be a tremendous benefit to healthcare personnel treating patients, and to regulators or health program officials responsible for tracking medicines and ensuring their quality”, said Zaman. “We have spent several years developing the technology in an academic setting and by working with CIMIT, our partners in Ghana, and the US Pharmacopeia (USP) we have received the needed funding to transition the technology out of the lab and into real-world use.”

Commercialization leadership and mentoring from Wolfgang Krull, a CIMIT Accelerator Executive, helped the PharmaChk team transform the core technology into a field-ready product that was successfully validated in Ghana. “The PharmaChk device is designed to be portable, simple, and affordable so it can be used anywhere in the world. Over the past several months we have developed a viable scaling strategy and are very honored to receive the grant from Saving Lives At Birth. This grant will help PharmaChk bring the system closer to commercial production,” said Krull.

The PharmaChk team was one of only 4 teams selected to receive the Transition-to-Scale grant from Saving Lives At Birth, an organization comprised of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Government of Norway, Grand Challenges Canada, and the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID). Over 500 applicants from dozens of countries submitted applications to The Grand Challenge, a global call for groundbreaking, scalable solutions to infant and maternal mortality around the time of birth.

CIMIT is a non-profit consortium of leading teaching hospitals, universities and labs that accelerates healthcare innovation and commercialization to improve patient care. CIMIT fosters and facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration among clinicians, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and industry to develop novel products and services satisfying unmet clinical needs. For more information visit

For media inquiries, contact Marc Filerman at 617-643-3831, mfilerman(at)partners(dot)org.

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