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The Auburn Research and Technology Foundation Hosts BIO Alabama

16 Jun 2021 3:41 PM | Anonymous

Auburn Hosts BIO Alabama

June 2-3

Dr. Lane’s “Listening Campaign” around Alabama continued in June with a visit to Auburn. As a Texas native, she immediately felt at ease in the Alabama plains and was surprised to learn the Atlanta airport is only 1.5 hours away from the charmingly bustling town. Bill Dean – Executive Director of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation (aka “The Park”) – hosted Dr. Lane at The Park’s state-of-the-art facilities.

Graduate students from the Department of Biology kicked off Dr. Lane’s visit with a casual conversation about how BIO AL can support their career development: their interests spanned from policy, to academia, to industry. Dr. Lane discussed the depth of career opportunities in Alabama following graduation. As a result of their conversation, BIO Alabama plans to organize virtual soft-skill professional development opportunities and industry introductions for grad students across the state.

ARTF Executive Director Bill Dean (right), BIO AL Executive Director Rachel Lane (middle), and Senior Technology Transfer Officer Troy Brady (left) discuss Mr. Dean's plans to streamline tech transfer.

Bill Dean and Cary Chandler - Senior Director of Business Development & Startups – shared their thoughtful design of The Park’s campus and resources to connect, support, and fuel innovators. Dr. Lane was impressed to learn that the campus includes the Big Blue Marble Academy. “Campus-accessible childcare helps working parents stay engaged in their careers, supporting a diverse workforce that includes more representative perspectives and experiences” she noted. Mr. Dean's unique skillset and expertise in creating innovation-conducive environments was evident in his insightful plan to bridge gaps in the innovation pathway and facilitate tech transfer.

Next, Rick Hansen, Kimberly Braxton, and Gary Piazza from the Harrison School of Pharmacy shared their work. Dr. Lane was especially excited to learn more about Dr. Braxton’s study with the “TigerMeds® Personalized Prescriptions” program. The program uses individualized pharmacogenomic results to optimize patient prescriptions for tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), SSRI or SSNRI antidepressants, ADHD medications, antiplatelet medications, and antiestrogen medications.

Dr. Symone Alexander from the College of Engineering explains her work

The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering proved to be refreshingly focused on industry application, including novel MRI contrast agents, and showcased several of their energetic new faculty. College of Agriculture Chair David Held spotlighted the department’s recently introduced Applied Biotechnology degree, and Professor Brendan Higgins reiterated that many of their students “want to stay in the south.” VP for Research and Economic Development Jim Weyhenmeyer discussed cultural shifts in academic research that could promote a transition from predominately market-pull to market-push innovations. The College of Veterinary Medicine unveiled a vault of stories where they successfully applied developments in animal medicine to human biology. At the end of the day, Dr. Lane toured The Park’s accelerator space with Cary Chandler and then the Center for Advanced Science, Innovation, and Commerce across the street with Dr. Mark Liles.  

Representative Jeremy Gray and Dr. Rachel Lane

Dr. Lane did diversify her time in Auburn. She met with Representative Jeremey Gray to thank him for co-sponsoring HB 609, which was signed by Governor Ivey in May and provides state matching funds for companies awarded federal SBIR/STTR dollars. On her way out of town, Dr. Lane stopped by Vitruvias Therapeutics to visit with President Roger Graben.

Despite the packed schedule, Dr. Lane left unfinished business in Auburn and hopes to return for a visit with SiO2 and Pharmavite - among other companies - soon.

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