New initiative to build culture of drug development entrepreneurship

MassTERi will kick off with symposium on March 26

By Kristen O’Reilly

UMass Medical School Communications

March 13, 2014

Melissa Moore, PhD, co-founder of MassTERi, shown in the lab.

A new initiative will bring together faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students and biotechnology industry leaders to create a more robust on-campus community of scientific entrepreneurs. The Massachusetts Therapeutic and Entrepreneurial Realization Initiative (MassTERi, pronounced “mastery”) is a faculty-led initiative that will build upon existing efforts at the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS) and other university organizations to support scientists who are interested in advancing development of small molecule drugs and in commercializing their innovations.

MassTERi’s kickoff symposium will take place on Wednesday, March 26, at 1:30 p.m. in the Sherman Center auditorium. The event will showcase experts who have successfully bridged the gap between scientific discoveries and their development into new therapies. Speakers include Allan S. Jacobson, PhD, the Gerald L. Haidak, MD, and Zelda S. Haidak Professor of Cell Biology and chair and professor of microbiology & physiological systems; Manuel Navia, PhD, Oxford BioScience Partners; and William Sellers, MD, Global Head of Oncology, Novartis. [Visit www.umassmed.edu/massteri for more information and to register.]

MassTERi co-founder Melissa Moore PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator,the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, said MassTERi grew from discussions among colleagues who felt there was a need for a central repository of practical business advice for campus innovators.

“We already have expertise on campus, both in terms of innovation and industry knowledge. What we need is a way to bring together like-minded people to create a support group and a learning community so we can bring ideas closer to market,” said Dr. Moore.

The group will work closely with UMCCTS to offer “front-door consulting” to researchers, and with UMCCTS and the Office of Postdoctoral Fellows to create a drug development curriculum for postdocs and students.

“An important part of MassTERi’s mission is to educate and nurture the next generation of translational scientists and entrepreneurs,” said Moore. The group also hopes the March 26 symposium will generate a buzz about an “eClub” that will bring together faculty, postdocs, students and industry leaders to create a culture of entrepreneurship on campus through informational talks and networking events.

In addition to Moore, the founders of MassTERi are Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, and Celia A. Schiffer, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and co-founder of the Institute for Drug Resistance. Other members of the MassTERi steering committee are:  Anita Ballesteros, PhD, licensing officer in the Office of Technology Management; Cynthia Fuhrmann, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and GSBS assistant dean for career & professional development; Jean King, PhD, professor of psychiatry; Margaret Koziel, MD, professor of medicine and operations committee member for the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science; Thomas McCullough, director of corporate and foundation relations in the UMass Medicine Development Office; and Linda Plano, PhD, principal of Plano & Simple.

For more information, visit the MassTERi website.