The CTSI Innovation mission is to support and academically reward innovation by ensuring continuity between problem-focused scientific discovery and clinical translation. We achieve this through the development of novel programs, funding initiatives, and training opportunities.

The University of Pittsburgh, like many universities, has created institutional programs to support and facilitate translational research among its academic innovators. At CTSI, we create opportunities to help scientists who seek to pursue commercial translation. CTSI embraces commercial translation as one of a number of pathways to advance biomedical discoveries into the marketplace or clinical adoption. CTSI Innovation works to maintain the critical pipeline of basic research as it stimulates novel ideas, engages the community, and translates innovations to help solve health problems.

As part of the CTSI's initiative to develop and disseminate new processes, the CTSI Innovation's funding programs use non-traditional application and review mechanisms. Methods are designed to encourage collaboration and creativity, and to produce novel problem-focused research. The programs educate, train, nurture, and support life sciences innovators by facilitating project ideation, guiding project development, and stimulating adoption of the project by the health care community.

Since 2014, the CTSI Innovation has received 881 applications and awarded $5.9 million across 123 projects. Subsequently, this has led to $51.2 million in post-award investments.

Established in 2014, CTSI's health innovation program uses non-traditional funding mechanisms to encourage collaboration & creativity, to produce novel problem-focused research, and to ultimately build a culture of innovation. Collaborators: 535 external partners, 367 returning innovators, 68 Pitt departments. Ideas: 881 project applications, 2985 innovators, $5.9M invested. Impact: 403 press mentions, 123 projects in translation, $51.2M post-award investment, $25M from community/industry. As of March 2022.

Innovation Services

  • Provide funding support for many aspects and types of health-based research through incentivized problem-focused funding programs
  • Enable investigators to navigate the innovation ecosystem from problem-focused scientific discovery through clinical translation
  • Build and enable new collaborations and stakeholder engagements through experiential training and networking
  • Develop innovation programs to train investigators in human-centered design, to ensure continuity between scientific discovery and clinical translation
  • Collaborate with groups across campus to leverage resources with the end goals of stimulating innovation, supporting innovators, and accelerating translation of ideas into clinical practice
  • Engage organizations external to Pitt to create key partnerships to not only develop select technologies, but to cultivate an interactive ecosystem between the University and the community

Funding Programs:

Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) logo

The Pitt Innovation Challenge

The Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) is a problem-focused competition designed to generate innovative solutions to challenging health problems. This program recognizes that solving challenging problems sometimes requires risky solutions. The PInCh program aims to mitigate that risk and support some of the early work necessary to move ideas forward.

PAIN logo

The Virginia Kaufman Pain Research Challenge

The Virginia Kaufman Pain Research Challenge is a funding competition focused on research solutions addressing the dynamics, causes, and treatment of pain. Supported by the Virginia Kaufman Endowment, the Pain Research Challenge encourages interdisciplinary approaches to addressing pain and taps into the depth of expertise within the Pittsburgh pain community.


Pitt Challenge logo

The Pitt Challenge

The Pitt Challenge is a hackathon sponsored by The University of Pittsburgh Pharmacy and CTSI that brings together students from many disciplines to solve problems in the health field. Participants engage in critical conversations regarding health care and pharmacy with industry giants and leading researchers.

Performance Innovation Tournament logo

The Performance Innovation Tournament

The Performance Innovation Tournament encourages Pitt researchers across multiple disciplines to collaborate with the Athletics Department to help solve common issues facing athletes, their coaches and trainers in such a way that will allow for effective training, reduced risk of injury, increased physical and mental strength, and improved human performance.

ProtoHype logo

The ProtoHype Challenge

The ProtoHype Challenge was a collaboration with TechShop Pittsburgh to facilitate the creation of medical devices and biomedical research tools to advance health care and research. Please stayed tuned as we work to revise this program.

John Maier, MD, PhD

Director, CTSI Innovation
Phone: 412-383-2319

Aneesh Ramaswamy, PhD

Assistant Director, Program Management

Phil Cicco, MSPPM

Assistant Director, Project Management

Dana Farrell, PMP

Project Manager, Health Research

Anne Gohn, PhD

Project Manager, Commercialization

Will Hierholzer

Human-Centered Design Facilitator