2019 Innovation Pilot Award Winners Announced

The UNC Center for Health Innovation is pleased to announce the winners of the seventh annual Innovation Pilot Awards. The Center sought proposals from employees for innovations across a spectrum of areas including care delivery, new technology, advanced analytics, and more!

Three winners emerged from more than twenty strong applications received from across UNC Health Care and the School of Medicine. The proposals demonstrated clear dedication to improving care for our patients and strengthening our health care system.

The winning teams include:

A Novel Drug-Delivery System for the Treatment of Vestibulodynia

PI:  Erin Carey, MD (Obstetrics and Gynecology)    

Co-PI:  Rahima Benhabbour, PhD (Biomedical Engineering)

Vestibulodynia (VBD) is a very common cause of sexual pain of reproductive aged women in the United States.  One of the first-line treatments for VBD, topical lidocaine 5% ointment, cream or gel, is difficult to apply due to the content and lack of a directed delivery system. Innovative vestibule medication delivery systems are needed to permit longer, directed therapy. This project will be the first to apply a specialized thin film technology to the vulvar vestibule.


Translation of an Effective Gene Therapy Research Product for Treating Patients with Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) IIIA 

PI:  Haiyan Fu, MD (Pediatrics)

Co-PI:  Joseph Muenzer, MD (Pediatrics)

The aims of this project are to obtain IND approval and develop assays to support Phase 1/2 clinical trials for a gene therapy treatment for Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) IIIA.  MPS IIIA is a devastating genetic disease with profound neurological disorders leading to early death and no effective treatment exists.  The added value of successful gene therapy approaches to this disease will be extremely meaningful for affected families.  The assays developed by this project are essential for subject recruitment, safety and outcome assessment of MPS IIIA gene therapy clinical trials.


Pursuing the Quadruple Aim through Pocket Point-of-Care Ultrasound

PI:  Ria Dancel, MD (Internal Medicine & Pediatrics)

Co-PI:  Catherine Coe (Family Medicine)

This project proposes to develop and implement a standardized Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) elective for residents in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics. Success of this project will pave the way for further widespread, interdepartmental and interdisciplinary efforts throughout UNC Health Care and a more robust curriculum for the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine.


Thanks to all of the 2019 applicants for their interest and dedication, and congratulations to the winners.

Established by UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine, the Center for Health Innovation initiates, evaluates and supports the adoption of disruptive, patient-centered innovations in the delivery and financing of health care. The Center strives to provide rapid assessment, coordinated facilitation, program management, partnership development and funding for innovation. To learn more, visit our webpage at www.med.unc.edu/innovation.