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Bob Grubbs Medical Innovation Symposia

Innovation Symposia

  • Caltech Technology Showcase - June 2023
  • Oral Surgery/Dentistry - Feb. 2023
  • Interventional Radiology - May 2022
  • Cancer - Jan. 2022
  • Surgery - Nov. 2021
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology - Sept. 2021
  • Cardiology - April 2021
  • Telemedicine - Feb. 2021
  • Neurosurgery - Nov. 2020

Bob Grubbs Medical Innovation Symposia hosted by the Merkin Institute for Translational Research (MITR)

Dr. Dan Schwartz (UCSF and MITR Physician-In-Residence) and Professor Robert Grubbs (recently deceased after an illustrious career in Chemistry at Caltech) began a 25-year collaboration in 1996 working to solve clinical problems in Ophthalmology by leveraging the wealth of basic science and engineering talent at Caltech. To expand Caltech's reach into other medical disciplines (e.g., Surgery, Urology, Interventional Radiology, etc.) they established the UCSF/Caltech Innovation Symposia.

These informal symposia convened UCSF physicians with Caltech PIs. The physicians would present clinical problems and a desired novel solution to Caltech PIs who would then propose potential solutions. Often collaborations would develop, sometimes with resultant invention filings and start-up formation. Interested graduate students and post-docs have also participated and joined collaborations between UCSF clinicians and Caltech PIs.

Typically, research is conducted at Caltech where feasibility (proof of concept) is established for the innovation. The goal of the initial phase is to transition a prototype from Caltech to UCSF for pre-clinical testing, often in animal models. As challenges are inevitably encountered, research/development efforts cycle back to Caltech to refine the invention under clinical guidance. For those projects which achieved a solid level of pre-clinical proof of concept at UCSF, IP was protected allowing the team to seek investment funding (seed, venture capital, strategic partnership) purposed to justify and to fund early clinical trials.

Recent symposia have been organized thematically (see list in sidebar). The transition from in-person meetings to Zoom meetings has made it much easier to organize symposia logistics, especially given the geography of Caltech and UCSF. The clinical reach of the symposia has also been extended beyond UCSF, with clinician-scientists from Cedars-Sinai, UCLA, USC, and Stanford invited to participate.

Symposia participants and their respective institutional technology transfer office representatives are cognizant of the need to maintain confidentiality and to protect IP rights. To address this concern, all attendees are required to sign a confidentiality agreement at the time of meeting registration. By partnering with a broad array of clinicians with diverse clinical problems, Caltech researchers are addressing a wide range of medical problems with the Merkin Institute supporting advances in patient care.

Twice yearly, the Merkin Institute invites proposals for Merkin Innovation Seed Grants. These awards provide early support for translational projects. Projects developed from the Bob Grubbs Healthcare Innovation Symposia are encouraged, but projects and clinical partnerships developed in other ways are equally welcome.