Legislature Hears of MPower Achievements

February 16, 2015    |  

The presidents of Maryland's two largest public universities told Maryland legislators Monday that the state of their historic research and education collaboration is very good. 

Three years ago in March, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President Jay A. Perman, MD, and University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) President Wallace D. Loh, PhD, joined hands to lead University of Maryland: MPowering the State. Today, that collaboration has grown to produce new educational offerings in health sciences and law, generate joint research grants that bring in millions of dollars in financial support, and foster innovation that has commercialized scientific discoveries and launched numerous new technology businesses.

"MPowering the State has transformed how we think about collaboration and how we combine our strengths to benefit our universities, our students, and our state," Perman told the joint meeting of the Senate Subcommittee on Education, Business, and Administration and the House Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development. "Working together, our scientists are winning millions of dollars in research funding, and our commercialization experts are getting faster and better at turning that research into market-ready technologies and therapies," he said.

(l-r) Bruce Jarrell (UMB), Wallace Loh (UMCP), Jay Perman (UMB), Mary Ann Rankin (UMCP)

(l-r) Bruce Jarrell (UMB), Wallace Loh (UMCP), Jay Perman (UMB), Mary Ann Rankin (UMCP)

"The real value proposition of MPower is that it's allowed us to focus our efforts on strategic, programmatic priorities in efficient ways - without building out burdensome processes or bureaucracies," Loh told the dozen state senators and delegates. "This means that we can aggressively pursue the best research in bioscience, engineering, and computer and mathematical sciences, and we can develop the most innovative educational programs in law, public health, and social science," he added.

Subcommittee members were also shown a video presentation (below) that provided a more detailed look into MPower. Specific MPower programs were highlighted in the video, including the Center for Health-Related Informatics and Bioimaging (CHIB) and the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR).

CHIB joins computer scientists, engineers, physicists, biostatisticians, and others at the College Park campus with imaging specialists, physicians, clinicians, and additional health experts in Baltimore to advance the concept of personalized medicine, where decisions and practices are tailored to individual patients through the use of genetic sequencing and other biomedical information.

IBBR is a tripartite collaboration, including UMB, UMCP, and the U.S. government's National Institute of Standards and Technology. The mission of IBBR is to leverage collective research strengths of the partnering institutions in medicine, biosciences, technology, quantitative sciences, and engineering to foster integrated, cross-disciplinary team approaches to scientific discovery and education, and to serve the expanding economic base of biosciences and technology in the state of Maryland and the nation.

Subcommittee members asked whether MPower ought to be expanded to include other University System of Maryland (USM) institutions. Perman said the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has already been involved in some programs. He also cited a recently formed MPower initiative, the Agriculture Law Education Initiative, which includes the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.

Another question came forward about ownership of the numerous patents awarded for scientific discoveries in MPower collaborations. Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS, chief academic research officer and senior vice president at UMB, told subcommittee members that the universities retain the patents and lease them to private industry. Commercializing discoveries creates economic impact and brings new technologies and therapies to market, benefiting society. Engaging directly with external partners brings new investment, expanded markets, and more startup ventures.