ACTSI's I-Corps Leader

Pamela Bhatti, PhD, a 2011 ACTSI (Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute) Research Education, Training, & Career Development (RETCD) KL2 scholar, graduate of the RETCD Masters of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) program, Associate Professor of Digital Signal Processing, and Bioengineering, in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Rehabilitative Medicine with the Emory School of Medicine, continues the history of RETCD scholars turned ACTSI educational leaders.

Committed to translating technology to the clinical setting, Bhatti participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. NSF I-Corps is a set of activities and programs that prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory. I-Corps is a streamlined and fast-paced, seven-week customer discovery process. “You must be prepared to first assess if there is indeed a critical need in the market for your scientific discovery to successfully participate,” said Bhatti. “The I-Corps program can help investigators identify if their product is or is not commercialize-able, how it can be used, and if investigators need to pivot to an unanticipated market or even completely rethink their product. This may be a new way of thinking for scientists and researchers.”

In a collaboration with the NSF, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is piloting the I-Corps at NIH program specially tailored for biomedical research and clinicians, which will give NIH-funded researchers training to help them evaluate their scientific discoveries for commercial potential, with the aim of accelerating biomedical innovations into applied health technologies.

Bhatti, with the support of ACTSI, recently competed for the I-Corps at NIH administrative supplement and was one of 10 Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) awarded $25K. With this support, Bhatti and ACTSI will serve as a liaison for customer discovery and guide researchers through the translational process. The overarching goal is to assist research investigators in evaluating next steps for scientific discoveries – commercialization, licensing, or placing in the public domain. ACTSI will guide investigators in achieving steps, such as working with the Office of Technology Transfer, business mentoring, product development, and didactic training.

This award adds another dimension to the existing ACTSI RETCD training program and continues work with existing partners that are familiar with I-Corps, such as Georgia Tech and the Georgia Research Alliance. Bhatti has now become an I-Corps at NIH leader and will be sharing and refining the ACTSI curriculum with CTSAs at UCDavis, Michigan, and Indiana.

ACTSI is a city-wide partnership between Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Tech and is one of over 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

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