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U-Spinout Proactive Memory Services Awarded Projected $1.4M Federal Research Grant

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SALT LAKE CITY, September 19, 2016 – Proactive Memory Services (PAMS), a University of Utah spinout company, has been awarded a projected $1.4 million grant over two years by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to refine an innovative, mobile device tool. NIA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II award will enable PAMS to continue development of its tablet computer and smartphone application, the Memory Care Partner, that will provide guidance to patients and families with concerns about memory loss. The company is commercializing clinical care advances pioneered at the University’s Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imaging and Research.

Norman L. Foster, M.D., professor of neurology, director of the Alzheimer’s Center at the University of Utah, and a co-founder of PAMS, says a new paradigm emphasizing early cognitive care is evolving. “Our app will be an innovative tool to help concerned children and spouses get early high quality care for a loved one with memory loss. Family members often don’t know what they can or should do. Our app will allow us to provide advice before a doctor’s visit, reassuring when appropriate and hastening evaluation and treatment when necessary. The goal is to help people better navigate the often daunting process of seeking quality memory loss care,” said Foster. “This grant from the NIA will provide us with the necessary funds to accelerate and commercialize our app and get it into the hands of those who need it.”

As our population ages, Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders are a growing problem. Patients and families often confront a confusing and complex health system. The Memory Care Partner app that PAMS is developing will help individuals with memory concerns and their families navigate these waters, based on PAMS knowledge and experience with the situations commonly faced by people living with memory loss or dementia.

“We are excited to advance this innovative effort to provide easily accessible, evidence-based information to people struggling with memory loss and other cognitive and behavioral issues associated with dementia. We hope that providing the information needed to better understand and cope with this often stressful condition and diagnosis, with a tool right at their fingertips, will lead to better decisions and care, as well as peace of mind for the families of those affected,” said NIA Program Officer Nina Silverberg, Ph.D.

Based on the principles of precision and proactive memory care pioneered by Foster and his team at the Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imaging and Research (CACIR) at the University of Utah, the app will support family members in knowing when to seek medical advice, developing a team to support the person with memory concerns, coordinating care with medical providers and community services, identifying milestones for achieving treatment goals, and helping assess the quality of care received. It will provide information to people even before they have decided to seek medical attention as well as throughout their illness. It will also supply users with the personalized advice of experts about services that match their needs. The information that patients with memory loss and their families will gain from the app will enable them to manage day-to-day needs and become prepared to prevent unnecessary, foreseeable complications.

With this recent grant funding, PAMS will expand the company and contract with U-spinout software company ViSUS to develop a commercial product ready for marketing.

Danuta Petelenz of Technology and Venture Commercialization (TVC) at the University of Utah helped guide PAMS through its STTR application as well as other grant opportunities. PAMS grant number is 2R42AG044147-02A1.

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Nick Swisher