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Bob Grubbs Medical Innovation Symposium Series

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

Dr. Dan Schwartz (UCSF and former MITR Physician-In-Residence) and Professor Robert Grubbs (who passed away in 2021 after an illustrious career in Chemistry at Caltech) began a 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 faculty. Physicians presented clinical problems to Caltech scientists and engineers who would then propose potential solutions. Collaborations sometimes resulted in invention filings and start-up formation. Interested graduate students and post-docs participated and joined and contributed significantly to these collaborations.

Typically, research was conducted at Caltech where feasibility (proof of concept) was established for the innovation. The goal of the initial phase was to transition a prototype from Caltech to UCSF for pre-clinical testing, often in animal models. Research/development efforts cycled 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.

MITR symposia were organized thematically (see list in sidebar). The transition from in-person meetings to Zoom meetings made it easier to organize symposia and the clinical reach of the symposia was extended beyond UCSF, with clinician-scientists from Cedars-Sinai, UCLA, USC, and Stanford invited to participate.

Future symposia will continue to foster collaborations. A broad array of both clinicians and biotech industry representatives will present clinical problems and technological challenges for Caltech researchers. By expanding the range of problems addressed by translational research at Caltech, the Merkin Institute will continue to support advances in patient care through such collaborations.