The CTSI Innovation Core’s mission is to support and academically reward innovation by ensuring continuity between problem-focused scientific discovery and clinical translation. The Core achieves 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.  The Core 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 Core'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 Core has received 859 applications and awarded $5.2 million across 112 projects. Subsequently, this has led to $34 million in post-award investments.

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:

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.


The Pain Research Challenge

The 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. 



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.

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.

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.


Found in Translation

Found in Translation is a speed networking event hosted by CTSI and sciVelo (part of the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute) that matches Innovation Core teams with University and external stakeholders.

Products of Pittsburgh Podcast

A show about the people in Pittsburgh – innovators, scientists, community leaders – and the remarkable stories behind how they came to be and the work they have produced.

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John Maier, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Innovation Core
Phone: 412-383-2319
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Michael Flock, PhD
Manager, Innovation Core
Phone: 412-864-3490
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Will Hierholzer
Assistant Core Manager
Phone: 412-864-3484
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Phil Cicco, MSPPM
Senior Project Manager
Phone: 412-864-3464
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Aneesh Ramaswamy, PhD
Commercial Translation Project Manager
Phone: 412-864-1383
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Dana Farrell
Research Facilitator
Phone: 412-383-1171