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Accolades & Honors

A multidisciplinary Pitt team won the first phase of the NIH Neuromod Prize competition

Tai in a white collar shirt

A team of scientists, engineers and industry partners led by Changfeng Tai (pictured), professor of urology, pharmacology and bioengineering in Pitt’s School of Medicine and Swanson School of Engineering, is among eight teams nationwide to win the first phase of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) competition to accelerate the development of therapies that adjust nerve activity to improve organ function. Called “neuromodulation,” potential therapies hold promise to restore healthy function in organs ranging from the heart to the bowels, while limiting side effects.

Tai’s team at Pitt’s Department of Urology has been initially awarded $100,000 for their plan, which seeks to develop a multichannel implantable device for sacral-pudendal neuromodulation to address bladder, bowel and sexual disorders. The pudendal nerve is a major nerve in the pelvis at the base of the spine, called the sacrum. 

The team will use the prize money to conduct proof-of-concept studies and compete in phase two of the competition. Winners of the second phase will be given additional monetary awards and be invited to compete for a grand prize of up to $5 million. The Neuromod Prize is an initiative from the NIH Common Fund’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program, which is making critical progress to help accelerate the development of neuromodulation therapies, close fundamental knowledge gaps and offer tools that enable open science and innovation through the SPARC Portal.