Innovation as a Discipline™: Creating a culture and architecture of commercial translation for translational investigators


The University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) launched the optional Innovation Core in 2015 with three aims: 1) Develop advanced, experiential innovation training, networking and externship opportunities and support the academic career development for biomedical innovators; 2) Develop and disseminate new methods and processes that encourage and support innovative approaches to clinically important problems; and 3) Accelerate clinical commercial translation by providing hands-on domain expertise and leadership. We branded the methods and approaches to implementing these aims “Innovation as a Discipline” (IaaD) to create an institutional culture of innovation and to provide training and support for investigators to translate their discoveries through commercial translation.

The IaaD vision is aimed at activating investigators toward commercial translation who are otherwise not self-selecting for engaging beyond their basic scientific or clinical research. Activating these latent translational investigators is important because only a small proportion of University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) faculty traditionally engage commercial translation (363 Pitt invention disclosures filed in FY2019 from 4,447 total full-time faculty). Pitt has averaged only 13.6 startups per year (FY2014 – FY2018). Based on the University of Pittsburgh’s research focuses on  market-ready biomedical areas such as precision medicine, immunotherapy, digital health, and regenerative medicine, there exists an opportunity to further activate investigators and the institution toward a discipline of innovation that will accelerate the quantity and quality of research that translates to the clinic through commercial translation.

In this poster we will focus on three Innovation as a Discipline programs (Pittsburgh Innovation Challenge, sciVelo Commercial Translation Critical Paths, and a newly created and implemented Academic-Entrepreneurship promotion & tenure policy). Each path respectively helps to overcome three main barriers of investigators activating toward commercial translation: 1) Translational Project Funding, 2) Translational Project Development Support, and 3) Incentives for faculty engaging in commercial translation.

Innovation Core Manager
Director of Research and Development, Assistant professor
Executive Director, Finance
Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research, Health Sciences