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Major Medical Grant Secured Thanks To Help From Program In Las Cruces

Mar 4, 2021

The PainScan device helps clinicians visualize the full pain picture to improve diagnostic accuracy and identify best therapies. (Courtesy photo)

  A New Mexico health care company has received a competitive quarter-million-dollar grant to develop its product, thanks to support from the New Mexico Federal and State Technology partnership program at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center.

Just Health Care LLC has been awarded a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant for $256,000 to conduct research and development work on a new biomedical device that measures and maps pain intensity onto a 3-D image of the human body.


Just Health Care has been providing medical services to uninsured and low-income New Mexicans since 2003. Clinicians developed integrative health approaches to chronic pain for patients, often helping patients get off opioid medications. Through these experiences, Dr. Andru Zeller envisioned PainScan, a highly technical medical device that uses computer vision and a sophisticated clinician glove to fully map a patient’s pain intensity.

“We are so proud that our New Mexico business has been selected by NSF and that we can continue our ground-breaking research into improving health outcomes for people suffering with chronic pain,” Zeller said. “This ‘Hi-tech, hi-touch’ approach personalizes the physical exam, improves patient care and can help direct patients to non-opioid solutions. This new technology helps clinicians visualize the full pain picture to improve diagnostic accuracy and identify best therapies.”

Zeller said the global chronic pain treatment market is currently worth about $83 billion and expected to reach $152 billion by 2030. “PainScan is positioned at the confluence of rising senior populations, escalating chronic diseases, and favorable policies around pain research and treatment,” he said.

Just Health Care CEO John Mierzwa said the PainScan device and resultant data provide practitioners and their patients with unprecedented tools to personalize and improve patient care.

“We look forward to integrating modern technologies to advance an age-old quest – alleviating chronic pain,” Mierzwa said.

The NM FAST partnership program at Arrowhead Center provides proposal development assistance to small businesses throughout New Mexico for the SBIR program, which awarded funding to Just Health Care, and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. The SBIR/STTR programs are often referred to as “America’s Seed Fund,” and are highly competitive source of undiluted funding for businesses. NM FAST provides the resources, support, and expertise necessary to submit a competitive proposal.

“Being able to help businesses like Just Health Care find funding for their innovative idea with commercial potential is one of the hallmarks of the NM FAST program, whether it is guiding them through the SBIR/STTR programs, helping them structure their proposal package, or even reviewing it before it is submitted,” said Del Mackey, a member of the NM FAST team at Arrowhead Center. “It’s always delightful to know that the support we provide is helping to build the innovation ecosystem across New Mexico, and impacts the economic outlook for our state.”

Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant, it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant of up to one million dollars. Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.

“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, division director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”

Startups or entrepreneurs who submit a three-page project pitch will know within three weeks if they meet the program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk. Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential are encouraged to apply. All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program undergo a rigorous merit-based review process. To learn more about America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, visit https://seedfund.nsf.gov.

For more information about Pain Scan, visit www.PainScanSystem.com.

Information from NMSU