Symposia and Workshops
- Neurosurgery - Nov., 2020
- Telemedicine - Feb., 2021
- Cardiology - April, 2021
- Obstetrics and Gynecology - Sept., 2021
Caltech Medical Innovation Symposia now hosted by the Merkin Institute for Translational Research (MITR)
Dr. Dan Schwartz (UCSF and MI Physician-In-Residence) and Professor Robert Grubbs (Chemistry, Caltech) have had a 25-year collaboration working to solve clinical problems in Ophthalmology by leveraging the wealth of basic science and engineering talent at Caltech. In an effort to expand Caltech's reach into other medical disciplines (e.g., Surgery, Urology, Interventional Radiology, etc.) they established the UCSF/Caltech Innovation Symposia.
Each symposium convened 12-15 UCSF physicians who had identified clinical problems in need novel solutions. The clinicians delineated the various components of an ideal technology solution but lacked the necessary scientific/engineering expertise to enable their ideas. Enter Caltech. Among the group of 6-10 Caltech faculty (as well as interested graduate students and post-docs) participants, someone often came up with an elegant potential solution and a collaboration with the UCSF clinician was launched.
Initially, 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. As challenges are inevitably encountered, research/development efforts cycle back to Caltech to refine the invention under clinical guidance. For those projects which achieved some level of pre-clinical proof of concept at UCSF, IP was protected and the team could then seek more extensive funding (seed, venture capital, strategic partnership) purposed to eventually conduct early clinical trials.
While the first 12 symposia had a potpourri of clinicians across the various medical specialties, recent symposia are more focused. For example, a November, 2020 symposium was devoted solely to Neurosurgery. In February, 2021 we a Telemedicine symposium was convened and symposia for Cardiology will follow in April, 2021 and Ob-Gyn in June, 2021. A transition from in-person meetings to Zoom has made it much easier to organize symposia logistics, especially given the geography of Caltech and UCSF. The clinical reach of upcoming symposia will be extended beyond UCSF, as clinician-scientists from UCLA, USC, and Stanford will be recruited to participate.
Symposia participants and the respective technology transfer offices at both campuses are cognizant of the need to maintain confidentiality and protect IP rights. To address this concern, each attendee signs a confidentiality agreement at the time of meeting registration.
The symposia have been very popular and stimulating. A number of successful collaborations and several start-ups have emerged. Going forward, the MITR Physician-in-Residence will work with the MITR Executive Director, Dr. George Tolomiczenko, to increase the number of such collaborations and assist in their success. From the Caltech side, faculty members have found that the application of fundamental science and engineering to real problems faced by clinicians has been exciting and rewarding. With the aid of a broad array of clinicians, Caltech researchers will be addressing a wider range of medical problems and the Merkin Institute will facilitate major advances in patient care.