What research universities need to do

university by kevindooley

Supporting innovation, not just research
[Via Andrew Hargadon]

Tom Katsouleas, dean of Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, has a nice article, How Uncle Sam Can Support Innovation, on the Chronicle of Higher Education website about the need for an investment in translational-research education that is equivalent to the national investment in scientific research (roughly $43B per year).

Don’t mistake equivalence, in this regard, for equal financial investments but rather for investments in creating the capability to bring the fruits of $43B-worth of research all the way to the market. In our experience, the training and support needed to get ideas moving out of research labs is a fraction of the costs of the original research.

Katsouleas’s point: “For research universities to realize their full potential in tackling global grand challenges and engaging society, revolutionary changes are needed in federal policy, educational programs, and the treatment of intellectual property.”


Translating health research from the lab to the clinic will take more than money from the government. I will take a basic changes in how scientists are trained and supported. Greater focus will have to be put understanding research’s place in society and how scientists fit.

Because in the current world, successful research on health concerns, leading to successful outcomes, requires a much greater understanding of the needs of society than simply what gets done in the lab.

Or rather, the researchers who do understand this will have much more successful research careers. Because a bigger piece of the government pie will be going to those who can help provide viable solutions to important health problems, not just those working in the ivory tower.

I expect to see more scientists clambering for this sort of training. Maybe not all will find them useful but those that do will probably have an impact far beyond their numbers.