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“Sun Showers and UTHSC-Industry Partnerships” A Message from Dr. Steven R. Goodman


The rain in a sun show is actually coming from a different location and being blown into the sunny region by a strong wind. In the case of university-industry partnerships, it also requires a strong force to blow the resources of industry, that allow products to reach the public, towards the ability of the academic partner to provide cutting edge research. Indeed, as pointed out in our Operational Strategic Plan for Research, that industry rain is blowing towards a smaller number of academic partners.

Quoting the OSPR, “Business-industry partnerships need to be beneficial in very significant ways to both UTHSC and the industry, as well as support the overall mission of each participant. The current trend is for industry to partner with fewer universities in order to have a more defined and deeper relationship with the academic institution. To that end, we must also identify our strengths and capabilities in the entrepreneurship environment and identify ideal partners. This can be done by utilizing the Areas of Excellence and Focus Areas found in this document, as well as the Cross-cutting Platforms.”

Why should UTHSC become involved in industry partnerships? There are several reasons: [1] As an academic health science center, we are concerned about human health which requires bringing new therapeutics and medical devices to the public. [2] We want to grow the economy of Memphis and the State of Tennessee. [3] We want to bring in new financial resources to support our faculty’s research, and [4] bring new training options and opportunities for industry networking for our graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

So why is UTHSC a good target for this sun shower from industry? [1] As discussed above, the OSPR describes both our strengths and aspirations for the next five years; [2] our UTHSC leadership understands the role of our health science center in academic-industry partnerships as evidenced by both the creation of the Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Systems and strides towards creating a UTHSC Research Park; [3] as VCR I have experience in creating these partnerships as exemplified by my leadership role in establishing the CNY BioAccelerator; [4] and our recent appointment of Dr. Gabor Tigyi as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Industry Relations. In this role, Gabor will lead the efforts towards creating these new partnerships. Dr. Tigyi comes to this new administrative role with strong experience including co-Founding and serving as Chief Scientific Officer for RxBio Inc., a biotechnology company developed at UTHSC, and serving as an inventor on over twenty patents and disclosures.

We are about to launch an effort to develop increased strategic and sustainable UTHSC-industry partnerships. Dr. Tigyi is the right person at UTHSC to lead this effort from the Office of Research as his career has straddled both cultures. We are at the beginning sun-shower stage, of a culture change, but the hard rain is about to fall.

-Steven R. Goodman, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Research