Monday, August 29, 2011

Cultivating a new crop of bioscience leaders

Today is the first day of classes for the 13th year of classes here at the Keck Graduate Institute. (The first students of the 2-year Masters of Biosciences Program graduated in 2002).

While KGI started with just the one program, this fall brings record enrollment of 150 students across four degree programs (MBS, PPM, PPC, PhD) and certificate students from the City of Hope. A total of 102 of those students are new, including 31 in the one-year degree programs.

I’ve already had my first teaching at KGI during the business “ramp up” day in the first week of orientation. I also judged five of about 20 teams of new students on their initial team projects, including the very impressive (and eventual winning) team of Felicia Amaechi (MBS), Richard Chen (MBS), Ramya Kartikeyen (PPM), Brent Vincent (MBS) and Erin White (PPC).

At Friday’s convocation, KGI President Sheldon Schuster emphasized his commitment to core idea of KGI. KGI is about combining science and business — the former to provide the technology and the latter to identify the needs that this technology will solve. He noted that , the KGI was the first to offer a life science Professional Science Masters — which is now being copied — and then was the first to create a post-PhD program.

Our guest speaker was Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto. She provided numerous examples of how social media and crowdsourcing are changing how new ideas are created, including in life sciences. She concluded with a provocative scenario of how a decentralized social learning model might supplant (or supplement) conventional university-based learning.

Finally, on Saturday night, about 50 returning MBS students came both to learn what happened over the summer and to make the transition from being the junior to senior MBS students. When asked by director of student services Sue Friedman what they wanted to be, they suggested a combination of engagement, institution building and support for their fellow students.

In the fall, I will be almost entirely be spending my time with the PPM and second year MBS students through the TMP program. I am faculty advisor for two projects, and am also team teaching the TMP class (ALS 400) with TMP director Craig Adams and Diana Bartlett, Assistant Vice President and Director of Corporate Partnerships.

However, as with faculty at other top graduate schools, I will also be spending time on my research — in this case as 25% of the full-time business faculty. Right now I’m wrapping up my latest review paper on open innovation, and then will be turning my attention to two presentations next month at the Technology Transfer Conference 2011.

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