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2018 AAMC Innovations in Research and Research Education Award

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announces three recipients of the 2018 AAMC Innovations in Research and Research Education Award. This is the seventh annual award developed in collaboration with the GREAT Group and GRAND leadership. The GREAT (Graduate Research, Education, and Training) Group is the AAMC’s professional development group for the faculty and administrative leaders of biomedical PhD, MD-PhD, and postdoctoral programs. The GRAND (Group on Research Advancement and Development) leadership is the AAMC’s professional development group for research deans, deans of clinical research, and other research leaders at academic medical centers.

The primary goal of this year’s awards program is to highlight innovative Institutional Models to Promote Tech Transfer, Entrepreneurship, and Research or Research Education Partnerships with the Private Sector. The three awarded projects were selected by a panel of leaders in biomedical research, education, and training from AAMC-member institutions as well as AAMC staff. Entries were judged on creativity, impact, and feasibility of replication of innovation.

First Prize Winner -

Women in Innovation and Technology (WIT)
Washington University in St. Louis - Nichole Mercier, PhD

Second Prize Winner -

Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Undergraduate and Post-graduate Students
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – Nancy Gray, PhD

Third Prize Winner -

SINAInnovations, Sparking an Innovation Ecosystem
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai– Scott L. Friedman, MD

The abstracts of the awardees and the three other finalists are included below:

Awardee Abstracts

Women in Innovation and Technology (WIT)
Nichole Mercier, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis

Like many fields in STEM areas, technology transfer offices (TTOs) experience gender disparities in the number of male and female innovators engaging the office. More males than females disclose and patent research findings. The Office of Technology Management (OTM) at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) initiated a women innovators program, called Women in Innovation and Technology (WIT), in 2014 in an effort to increase participation of women in technology transfer activities. Many studies have identified the barriers that academic women face with respect to commercialization. Therefore, the OTM designed WIT to lower barriers in order to better engage female innovators by educating women around the concepts of commercialization, fostering an internal network, and facilitating growth in commercial networks of WIT participants. WIT programming has engaged over 250 women through topical roundtables, symposia, workshops, and community building activities, and a significant number of individuals outside of the university community, from regional and national levels, have committed to supporting WIT-related activities and mentoring our female innovators. Early indicators from testimonials of WIT participants to data analysis around gender participation in technology transfer activities prior to and after WIT programming demonstrate success and impact of the program.

Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Undergraduate and Post-graduate Students
Nancy Gray, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Nancy Rusch, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

The Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, a residential training program initially funded by a NIH T32 training grant, has three primary goals: 1) enhance the breadth of career development activities to prepare students for the biomedical workforce; 2) support educational activities that complement traditional training by increasing awareness of entrepreneurial activity and the potential to commercialize ideas to improve health outcomes; and 3) reinforce the practice of team science as a mechanism for health science innovation. The Camp guides students through an immersive, five-day training program in which they learn how to start and fund a startup, meet with influential faculty, entrepreneurs and mentors, and become exposed to business processes, regulatory requirements, patents and legal issues. Students form teams, create and refine new venture ideas and interview potential customers. The Camp is all-expenses-paid and currently funded through Arkansas INBRE. Eligible students are Arkansas undergraduate (post-sophomore year), graduate, and medical students and postdoctoral fellows. The Camp concludes with a Demo Day, during which the public is invited to watch the teams present their new venture ideas. Since its inception in 2016, the annual Camp has received high scores as the first-of-its-kind entrepreneurship training program and has catalyzed four biomedical startup companies.

SINAInnovations, Sparking an Innovation Ecosystem
Scott Friedman, MD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Erik Lium, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Recognizing the opportunity to expand the innovation ecosystem at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2012, Dr. Scott Friedman, Dean for Therapeutic Discovery, supported by School Dean, Dennis Charney and the Dean’s leadership group, together conceived of an institution-wide event that would highlight the school’s commitment to innovation, therapeutic discovery and entrepreneurship. SINAInnovations was created as a nucleating event to mark this new era. The program, a 2-day high profile conference was a major inflection point

in the school’s commitment to nurture, support and reward innovation and entrepreneurship. This commitment reflected the burgeoning innovation footprint of the school, with major investments in advanced computing, big data, drug discovery and genomics, aligned with the nascent growth of the biotechnology sector within New York City and State. Leveraging the success of SINAInnovations in part, the institution has significantly expanded the scope of Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP) as the business partner to support the academic mission, and has introduced highly innovative programs in medical and graduate education, therapeutic discovery, and data science. These initiatives reflect Dean Charney’s vision for Mount Sinai to rapidly translate world-leading discoveries into innovations that improve the health and lives of our patients.

Finalist Abstracts

Stanford Center for Digital Health
Mintu Turakhia, MD, MAS, Stanford University; Euan Ashley, MD, PHD, Stanford University; Ken Mahaffey, MD, Stanford University; Marco Perez, MD, Stanford University

The Center for Digital Health (CDH) enables the Stanford community to create cutting-edge advancements at the intersection of health care and technology. Launched in January 2017, CDH works to find synergies and create collaborations between Stanford Medicine and digital health companies. The center provides several services and resources to the community: 1) Enabling Research: Through relationships with the digital health community, CDH compiles technical and institutional resources from experts to help guide researchers through all stages of developing and launching digital health projects at Stanford University. 2) Tailored Education and Community Building: CDH develops innovative education initiatives to advance the field of digital health across the Stanford ecosystem. These interactive platforms provide forums for the discussion of ideas, spark innovation and collaboration, and provide opportunities for shared learning. 3) Leading Flagship Studies: CDH faculty leaders lead ground-breaking digital health clinical trials and cohort studies including the Apple Heart Study, Stanford MyHeartCounts, SmartADHERE, and others. These studies are the first of its kind, having made major methodological advancements in scaling clinical trials digitally and virtually, and in the evaluation of apps, sensors, and the broad class of digital therapeutics.

Benchtop to Bedside: What Every Scientist Needs to Know
Babs Carryer, University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute

The Benchtop to Bedside course has been instrumental in changing the culture on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus to one that embraces innovation and entrepreneurship. Since 2004, this 12-week course for faculty, researchers, clinicians and graduate students has helped participants take the first dip in the entrepreneurial waters to move their inventions from the benchtop to the bedside. As a first low-barrier step to understanding academic commercialization of breakthrough discoveries with potential positive impact to society, this course has taught hundreds the process from invention disclosure to startup creation or license to an existing company. The course was initiated by University leaders and designed and implemented by Babs Carryer, Director of Education & Outreach for the Innovation Institute. The course features interactive seminars with outside industry-expert speakers who discuss topics from the value of intellectual property protection to the difference between academic funding and private investment. The goals of the B2B include: 1) Inspire researchers to commercialize, 2) Present a roadmap of how to move from the lab to the market, 3) Introduce participants to university programs to help them in their commercialization journey. Since the course’s inception, ~60% of course participants have been involved in commercialization, including options, licenses and startups.

Innovative Approaches to Fostering Clinical and Translational Science
Emma Meagher, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine; Jon Epstein, MD PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine; Garret A FitzGerald, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

In the first few years of the 21st century, as the promise of translational science was imagined, Penn undertook efforts (i) to create a workforce of scientists adept at translating discoveries into cures and (ii) took the time to understand the mechanics of executing translational science, thus optimally enabling its faculty to translate their discoveries to tangibly improve human health. In 2003, with an impressive degree of personal investment, Dr. Meagher designed and secured approval for an integrated experiential training model that focused on the divide between traditional training in clinical medicine and basic science, thereby launching the Masters in Translational Research – the first of its kind in the U.S. It has graduated more than 130 students with over 80% remaining engaged in science. Efforts to facilitate the translation of faculty discoveries led to the establishment of the Office of Clinical Research, which in partnership with the Penn Center for Innovation (Tech Transfer) is focused on the identification of innovative science, facilitating its translation into clinical development, and enabling entrepreneurship through identification of strategic commercial partnerships, all with an intent to pursue drug/device approval. One of many credible metrics include 4 FDA approvals for life threatening/life altering diseases and an additional 58 regulatory pathways underway.

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Research Program Awards

The AAMC announces its 2018 award winners, which highlights innovative institutional models to promote tech transfer, entrepreneurship, and partnerships with the private sector.


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