It’s a great time to be an Arizona Wildcat! Our football team has had one of its most successful seasons in the history of the program, and the fan support throughout the fall has been absolutely wonderful. We are very excited for the berth the team has earned in the Fiesta Bowl and hope to see a great fan turnout on December 31st! We are also fortunate to have a great deal of community support for the important changes taking place through our Never Settle strategic academic and business plan and the Arizona NOW campaign, which has reached 72 percent of its goal of $1.5 billion in support of critical research, teaching, and partnership programs that benefit families and communities throughout our great state and the world.
As we continue to build on the successes of the past year, the UA remains absolutely committed to partnering with our community to translate faculty research in ways that create positive impact in the lives of Arizonans. As a land-grant university, the UA’s Cooperative Extension system has a century’s worth of experience with this kind of work in agricultural and life sciences. Our challenge is to develop models of translation, commercialization, and other forms of research application that will sustain that foundational mission and that can be used in other areas of study.
In the past, one of the difficulties in supporting translation and commercialization has been that these activities were separated from the basic research process. For the most part, universities only allowed basic research to be considered in promotion and tenure decisions, and many forms of translational work could not be applied. However, over the past 20 years, the separation of basic research and its translation into products and services has begun to give way to an integrated process that brings these elements together in a holistic chain of discovery and impact.
At the UA, our past success in translational work has been the result of our longstanding culture of interdisciplinary innovation. From the SynCardia total artificial heart, the world's only artificial heart approved for use by the FDA and its counterpart agencies in Europe and Canada, to the astounding success of SinfoníaRx, a medication therapy management company headquartered in downtown Tucson, UA research has a profound impact on the economy of our state and in the everyday lives of Arizona residents. To sustain this kind of success, the UA and other public research universities have to find ways to support the integration of basic research and translational work so that they feed off of each other for the good of our communities.
This is why the UA embraced an inclusive view of scholarship in 2013, changing its promotion and tenure policy so that “integrative and applied forms of scholarship” including “translational research, commercialization activities, and patents” can be rewarded and promoted as part of what makes the UA a world-class research university. This fall, we doubled down on that effort by revising our intellectual property policy so that UA researchers are able to retain royalty rights from inventions and innovations they create, incentivizing that work, which then also benefits the University and the communities we serve. You can read more about that change in a recent UA@Work story.
The goal of integrating basic and translational research is also behind the creation of Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), which brings together all elements of UA technology commercialization under one roof. TLA programs help UA researchers to move their discoveries from idea to prototype to product with advising from networks of business and industry experts, proof-of-concept funding, and the newly announced Catapult Corporation, which is building on current efforts to create a network of philanthropic support for research-based technology startups.
Along with SinfoníaRx, the promise of these initiatives at TLA is evident in a recent licensing agreement with Angiomics, which grows vascularized tissue for drug testing; a growing partnership with Teleost Biopharmaceutical, which creates products to help prevent and treat skin cancer; and critical steps forward in a collaboration with Valley Fever Solutions, which is working to bring the anti-fungal drug NikZ to market as a treatment for valley fever.
UA faculty members in many other disciplines are pursuing translational projects that will have great benefit for the future of the institution and the communities we serve. For instance, in the School of Government and Public Policy, faculty members are using their expertise in collaborative governance networks to improve outcomes for local and regional organizations. One of these organizations is the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, which is a partner in the Military/Veteran Community Summit that took place on the UA campus on Friday. At the event, Dr. Richard Carmona, former Surgeon General and Distinguished Professor in the UA’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, gave the keynote address. Community members and organizations discussed ways to work together effectively for the good of those who serve. You can read about two other efforts of this kind, the UA Community and School Garden Program, and the UA Science Sky School, in this month’s insert.
This work is at the core of the University of Arizona, and we are absolutely committed to continued partnership and research application that will create untold and unimagined benefits for the good of our state and its citizens in 2015 and the years to come. As we look forward to the new year, I wish you a joyous holiday season and thank you for your continued support.