Found In Translation 2020 – Network to Translate

Co-directors of CTSI's Innovation Core, Dr. John Maier and Dr. Donald Taylor

If you are a scientist with interest in medical innovation and entrepreneurship, networking is one of the most powerful ways to promote your ideas and to expand your career outside of research. On the other hand, networking can be challenging, and not always as productive as you imagine it to be, particularly when you have to find the time to step out of your academic responsibilities.

Found in Translation provides the solution. Hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and sciVelo, the annual speed networking event, aims to overcome these challenges for innovative medical scientists interested in networking with commercial translation experts in the area. Through a series of eight-minute customized networking sessions, the goal of the event is to build a community for commercial translation and provide a chance for quick introductions that may not otherwise happen.

This year on February 18, 18 University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) teams from 7 schools and 26 departments met with 18 stakeholders from the Pittsburgh region who have expertise in healthcare innovation and commercial translation. Across 185 “dates,” project teams had the chance to quickly introduce themselves to their “matches” who could provide resources based on project needs, focus area and stage of development of the projects. These short but valuable networking sessions help initiate new collaborations.

“Some of our most meaningful interactions came with people we did not have meetings with, however people we had “dates” with pointed us in the right direction and since all networks were present it was easy to have time to chat, especially with the two breaks scheduled in. Having so many resources and networks in one room is phenomenal.”

Beth Gusenoff, DPM, Clinical Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh

Project teams involved recipients of translational funding opportunities from CTSI-managed PAIN Research Challenge and Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh) to Coulter, First Gear and Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance. Internal stakeholders were from the Pitt’s healthcare commercial translation infrastructure including the Center for Medical Innovation (CMI), Coulter Translational Research Partners or Office of Research.
"I felt like I was able to help him [Will Evans, PhD, CCC-SLP from Aphasia Games for Health!] solve a problem that he might not have reached out about had we not been face-to-face."

Kerri Jackson, Administrator for Pitt+Me Registry Office at the CTSI

Additional stakeholders joined from the greater Western Pennsylvania healthcare commercialization space, such as the Innovation Works, UPMC Enterprises or LifeX, that helped initiate conversations about investment seed funding, Industry partnerships, business development, or Innovation accelerators, SBIR/STTR application guidance and Intellectual property guidance post-exit from the university.

According to Larry Miller, MBA, who is the Managing Director of Life Sciences at Innovation Works:
"Found in Translation is an excellent way for the life science innovators to discover the resources both inside and outside the university community. Our region has a rich support network just waiting for the students and staff to productize their research and launch new businesses."
Larry Miller is also a member of CTSI's External Advisory Board and has served as the finalist judge for all PInCh competitions since 2014.

The third annual Found in Translation was yet another successful speed networking event reinforcing both CTSI’s and sciVelo’s goal of acting as a multifaceted resource for Pitt researchers on campus. Through Found in Translation, Pitt researchers explore health sciences translation resources in Pittsburgh. Found in Translation is an opportunity for researchers to expand the impact of their research as they start creating their own commercial translation story. sciVelo is proud to take part in Found in Translation and connecting researchers to available resources inside and outside of Pitt campus, collaborating around shared goals – accelerating research of impact by advancing Pitt research to market-oriented solutions.
“Found in Translation is a real benefit for our investigators who are striving to have their research impact people and are willing to engage and leverage the resources here at Pitt and in our region, which can help them achieve that.”

John Maier, PhD, MD, Co-director of the CTSI Innovation Core, Director of R&D, Department of Family Medicine

Author: Ceren Tuzmen, PhD

Photography: Zachary Ferguson, CTSI Media Specialist.