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“The Ph.D. Translational Excellerator: Transitioning from the Lab to Product” is Awarded $125,000 PII Funding

May 6, 2013

JHU’s Ph.D. Innovation Initiative (“PII”) awarded seed funding of $125,000 to the Medical and Education Perspectives (“MEP”), a non-profit organization led by Hopkins Medical and Graduate Schools students, to support its new initiative “The PhD Translational Excellerator: Transitioning from the Lab to Product.” The award, from the JHU Office of the Provost, is part of a PhD Innovation Initiative to support bold, new ideas that would transform PhD education for the next generation.

The abstract from “The Ph.D. Translational Excellerator: Transitioning from the Lab to Product” states, “The changing landscape of academic-industrial partnerships over the past decade threatens to leave current aspiring PhD scientists unprepared for the future. This year, among 134 graduating PhD students, ~47% are still seeking employment or are employed outside of academia. While PhD training at Hopkins is academically rigorous, this data suggests that there is an unmet need for interdisciplinary and inter-professional training to prepare our students for the scientific careers of the future. Currently, there are very few formalized opportunities for PhD students to connect to translational and entrepreneurial resources already existing within the university. We propose a program that bridges knowledge and experience across professional lines by bringing students with interdisciplinary skills together to foster an innovative and entrepreneurial culture within the Hopkins student community. Over the course of an academic year, students across Hopkins institutions will bring their talents together as a team to develop a scientific/medical idea, assess its feasibility, and work towards taking the idea into the commercial world. Our initiative has the potential to promote the power of one university, enhance our capacities in translational research and increase the competitive edge of our alumni to thrive in the changing scientific landscape.”

The PhD Translational Excellerator was initiated and headed by BME MD/PhD candidate Carmen Kut (MEP Founder and President) and Nitish V. Thakor, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and was co-authored with Neuroscience graduate student Delia Silva and SPH MD/PhD student Katie Washington. The program is a result of inter-departmental and interdisciplinary teamwork between MD, PhD, SPH, MBA and BS students, and will receive guidance from professors, staff and alumni of numerous departments and institutions at Johns Hopkins including, Elliot R. McVeigh, Massey Professor and Director, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Nitish Thakor (faculty mentor); Jennifer H. Elisseeff, Jules Stein Professor,

Wilmer Eye Institute and Biomedical Engineering, Translational Tissue Engineering Center; Youseph Yazdi, Ph.D., MBA, Executive Director, Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Reza Shadmehr, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Co-Director, BME Ph.D. Program; Chuck Montague, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Hong Lan, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Toby Gordon, SCD, Associate Professor, Carey Business School and D2M Director; Nayoung Louie, Carey Business School; Robert Siliciano, M.D., Professor, JHU School of Medicine; Robert C. Bollinger, M.D., M.P.H., Professor, JHU School of Medicine; Amita Gupta, M.D., Associate Professor, JHU School of Medicine; Stuart A. Grossman, M.D., Professor, JHU School of Medicine; Michael V. Johnston, M.D., Professor, JHU School of Medicine; Ryan Lee, M.D., Instructor, JHU School of Medicine; and Mr. Stewart Ballard (ex US Commercial Consultant, SAIS alumni).

The new program will be a project of the Baltimore based non-profit organization, MEP, founded by Carmen Kut, with Hopkins faculty and alumni as board directors. MEP started as a student organization nine years ago and has since developed into an interdisciplinary platform for engineering, business and medical students to collaborate and develop feasible medical prototypes to design, construct and potentially implement medical devices for use by physicians and minimally trained medical personnel in developing countries and at-need communities. MEP intends to promote a new graduate level elective for JHUSOM and other graduate students in the fall which focuses heavily on commercialization of medical devices and entrepreneurship know-how.

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