BAR HARBOR, MAINE — The MDI Biological Laboratory inaugurates its Center for Science Entrepreneurship this week with a new course that will help University of Maine and College of the Atlantic science and engineering undergraduates explore approaches to biomedical research using concepts and tools that promote collaboration across disciplines.
The goal of the new center is to promote a thriving science and technology sector in Maine by facilitating innovation- and entrepreneurial-based learning and by nurturing emerging life science and technology companies.
In the new course, entitled “Bridging Disciplines: Navigating Successful 21st Century Careers in Biomedical Science,” small teams of students from an array of scientific disciplines will come together to tackle complex problems in biomedicine.
“This course was developed in recognition that high-impact scientific breakthroughs typically occur at the interface between scientific disciplines,” MDI Biological Laboratory President Kevin Strange, Ph.D., said. “Unfortunately, science students are rarely trained in cross-disciplinary thinking and they lack the skills needed to communicate and interact with peers in other scientific fields.”
“Our new course, as well as other activities in the Center for Science Entrepreneurship, focus on meeting this unmet need and on providing innovation- and entrepreneurship-based learning that will provide students with the tools they need to effectively compete for and create 21st century jobs,” he continued. “Those jobs will drive economic growth and improve human health and well-being.”
The new Center for Science Entrepreneurship was funded through a 2014 $3 million state bond referendum. By providing students with biomedical training and entrepreneurs with the skills and resources to turn their ideas into new products and services, the center will serve as a leader of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will help modernize Maine’s economy.
Students in the “Bridging Disciplines” course will rotate through the institution’s laboratories, working with animal models to explore the underlying mechanisms of regeneration, tissue repair and wound healing. They will learn how research in these areas is essential to solving complex problems in biomedicine, including in heart disease, wound healing and cancer treatment.
At the week’s end, students will present the results of their work to a panel of interdisciplinary experts who will provide feedback as well as insight into the future of interdisciplinary research in biomedicine and other fields.
The course was launched at the suggestion of University of Maine students Isaiah Mansour and Samuel Landry, both of whom were 2016 summer fellows at the MDI Biological Laboratory. The students requested the course in recognition of the value of interdisciplinary training to realizing their career aspirations and to keeping their careers relevant in a rapidly changing job market.
“Science today requires a team of individuals from all disciplines to analyze a problem and come up with the best approach,” Landry wrote in his course application. “In the biomedical community, bringing a product to market requires biologists, clinicians, engineers, computer analysts and businessmen. Therefore, interdisciplinary cross-collaboration is imperative to effective R&D.”
The center builds on the MDI Biological Laboratory’s legacy of training Maine students through the Maine INBRE program, Maine’s biomedical innovation catalyst. Since its inception in 2001, this National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded program has provided biomedical training to more than 2,100 students and fostered the careers of many early-stage scientists.
The center will double the institution’s capacity to provide hands-on training for students and teachers in biomedical research. The 6,560-square-foot center houses a biomedical training laboratory on the first floor and classroom and meeting space on the second floor. The opening of the new center will be formally celebrated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 27, 2017.
About the MDI Biological Laboratory