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Grove Gift Launches Translational Medicine Program at UCSF & UC Berkeley
Date:5/20/2010

ted cures for life-threatening diseases. In fact, while inflation-adjusted federal research spending doubled from 1995 to 2005, new drug approvals were flat, said S. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston, MD, PhD, associate vice chancellor of research at UCSF and the director of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which helped launch the program and will assist in its oversight.

“We see this program filling an important gap,” Johnston said. “Clinicians generally don’t have the skills to be good inventors, and engineers often don’t understand the clinical problems. Our program is trying to provide pivotal training to both groups.”

The program’s placement in the San Francisco Bay Area, amidst the innovation of both the nation’s largest biotechnology hub and Silicon Valley, also will enable students to learn from the collaborations and synergies that propelled both the high-tech and biotech industries, Johnston said.

Matthew Tirrell, PhD, chair of the UC Berkeley bioengineering department, who will co-direct the new program along with UCSF bioengineering professor Tejal Desai, PhD, said the two campuses had been discussing the possibility of such a program to tackle this growing area of concern before Grove outlined his idea during a November 2009 conference at UCSF. That, Tirrell said, gave both UC campuses the inspiration, focus and now funding, to bring this to fruition.

“Engineers are, by nature, interested in translational -- or applied -- research, whether that’s in developing a safer airplane or using nano-technology to improve health,” Tirrell said. “The close ties between UC Berkeley and UCSF in bioengineering and research, as well as our history of cooperation, make this the ideal environment for using that engineering expertise to apply that approach to medicine.”

Engineers and bioengineers already are involved in man
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