Boot Camp 2017: Student becomes teacher


by Catherine Murari-Kanti, UNeMed | Aug. 30, 2017

In 2015, I participated in UNeMed’s first ever Boot Camp. In 2017 it was my turn to organize and conduct the very thing that began my career.

In 2015, I was finishing up my doctorate, and I knew that I didn’t want an academic career. Prior to that, I participated in UNeMed’s Research Commercialization course, and realized that I enjoyed the concept of taking science from the bench to the market.

The Boot Camp was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to learn, grow and seek out opportunities to work in a technology transfer office. I applied and was interviewed for internships at other technology transfer offices. Most of my interviewers were surprised with the tech transfer knowledge I had during the interview.

Eventually, that led to an internship, followed by my current position at UNeMed. Then I was asked to take the lead for this year’s Boot Camp. We had an eclectic mix of 14 participants that included graduate students, post-doctoral students, medical students, a practicing physician and industry professionals. Most of them had minimal to zero working knowledge of a technology transfer office such as UNeMed.

UNeMed staffers instructed participants on a variety of technology transfer topics. Students were expected to evaluate the new inventions, conduct prior art searches, analyze markets and write non-confidential marketing materials and negotiate contracts. On the last day of Boot Camp, participants presented their evaluations to UNeMed staff. It is the hope that this short, hands-on, interactive training camp prepares the participants for an eventual career in technology transfer.

Medical students enrolled in the Enhanced Medical Education Track expressed interest in understanding the nuances of prior art searches and the IP landscape. One of the post docs from Creighton University, Razia Aziz-Seible, was intrigued by the “valley of death:” The place where most technologies go to die because of a lack of funding.  Aziz-Seible asked a lot of questions on what researchers like her to could do to prevent innovation death.

“Even though this Boot Camp seemed to be intended for those in the academic realm, it was entirely beneficial for those in industry,” said Nicholas George, a Senior Research Scientist at Streck Incorporated, a local biotech company.

For me, it was an intense week of passing along knowledge that can be used wherever their journeys take them. I enjoyed interacting with them, getting to know their stories, struggles and victories, and I am thankful that they can add this to their quiver as they march along their path of scientific research.

The Boot Camp aligns with UNeMed’s educational mission in providing an opportunity for growth and learning and fostering a culture of innovation at UNMC. Every year students, and sometimes faculty, participate in a week-long exercise of understanding and learning the different aspects of commercializing science. The topics covered during the Boot Camp include the evaluation of new inventions, intellectual property law, technology marketing and commercialization and contract negotiation.

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