Community Future of MedTech

AUSTRALIAN RESEARCHERS SPARKING IDEAS ON THE WORLD STAGE

Six Australian students and postdocs have attended the prestigious SPARK Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship training program.

Over the past week, senior executives from across the world gathered in Berlin, Germany for the annual SPARK Global meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to bring together like-minded translational scientists in academia to collaboratively address global health challenges.

As part of the SPARK Global meeting, Accelerating Australia and MTPConnect selected six esteemed Australians to join SPARK’s two-week Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship training program. The six include Anqi Li and Garcia Cruz from Monash University, John Karas and Lisseth Burbano-Portilla from the University of Melbourne, and Carly Italiano and Max Cummins from the University of Technology Sydney.

All six Australians will work across multi-disciplinary and multi-national teams to solve global healthcare problems.

Maria, a PhD student at Monash University, is currently working in the field of cardiac tissue engineering, aiming to improve cardiac regeneration after heat attacks by developing a 3D bio-printed scaffold.

Speaking of her scholarship to attend the course, Maria said she believes the course “will be beneficial to me, as it takes me closer to develop feasible and better solutions, instruct on how to obtain funding to create biomedical companies and reinforces the communication skills that are essential for working effectively in multi-disciplinary teams.”

Joining the Australian researchers will be a delegation of senior executives from SPARK Oceania and Accelerating Australia, including Professor Michael Wallach and A/Professor Kevin Pfleger. Mr Wallach was invited by Stanford SPARK founders, Professor Daria Mochly-Rosen and A/Professor Kevin Grimes, to present the Australian SPARK model as a shining example of collaboration that other Spark programs can emulate.

Professor Wallach said the philosophy of SPARK Australia is to focus primarily on the benefit for the patient, which contributed to the success of all of the projects participating in the program.

“It has been very exciting seeing SPARK programs develop in Sydney (UTS, Univ. of Sydney & Macquarie Univ.), at Monash University starting last year and more recently at the University of Melbourne. Working closely with Professor Daria Mochly-Rosen and Prof. Kevin Grimes from Stanford University, School of Medicine (the Directors of SPARK Stanford) to bring SPARK to Australia has been an amazing experience & a great honour for me,” Prof Wallach said.

The SPARK program was originally developed by Stanford University in 2006 as a way to advance research discoveries from bench to bedside through education, mentorship and funding, often with a particular emphasis on drug development. A number of academic institutions worldwide have successfully developed their own SPARK programs based upon the SPARK at Stanford model, including Japan, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Norway and Australia.

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