In a brightly lit hotel ballroom, West Virginia University Health Sciences graduate student researchers put their skills and accomplishments on display to an enthusiastic audience of health industry representatives who walked away inspired by what they found.

It will be the WVU Health Sciences faculty’s turn in the spotlight on Feb. 21, and a long list of prestigious industry representatives are already signed up to see their work. The specially-crafted events are designed to encourage interaction and collaboration between WVU student and faculty researchers and the private sector through a WVU initiative called “Linking Innovation Industry and Commercialization” – or LIINC.

At separate LIINC events dedicated to different colleges at the University, where cutting-edge research is underway, private industry representatives are meeting the student and faculty researchers who are tackling innovative work. The most recent event gave student researchers from WVU Health Sciences departments the chance to highlight their work in cancer cell biology, cellular and integrative physiology, exercise physiology, neuroscience, pharmaceutical and pharmacological sciences, and biomedical sciences.

“These are mix-and-mingle events, for sure, but they are much more than that,” said Russ Lorince, director of economic development at WVU. “These are rare chances for students to present their research to professional industry representatives with an eye toward future cooperation. There’s a whole world of opportunity out there for these rising student researchers from internships and grants opportunities to product investments and career planning. These kinds of forums provide the chance to explore those opportunities. That’s part of what our LIINC initiative is all about.”

Ten health industry representatives attended the graduate student research event. Many of the attending companies such as Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies; Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, a biotechnology non-profit organization that works to encourage entrepreneurial life sciences research and patient care; and Protea Biosciences, a West Virginia company that is a world leader in the emerging field of bioanalytics, will join a growing roster of other companies planning to see what WVU Health Sciences faculty researchers have up their sleeves at the next LIINC event on Feb. 21. So far, more than 25 companies plan to send representatives to the faculty event.

“Several of the companies that saw the student research presentations intend to actively pursue some of the opportunities they discovered at the LIINC event,” said Bruce Sparks, director of technology transfer at WVU. “This is exactly what WVU needs to bring innovative research to the attention of the people who can put it to work helping people. Several of the representatives from Pittsburgh commented that they just didn’t realize the amount and level of research that was going on just down the highway. We need to continue to highlight our research efforts and showcase the projects that our students and faculty are actively pursuing.”

LIINC is designed to accelerate the commercialization of WVU research results and strengthen the University’s regional economic impact by creating new and improving traditional ties to the private sector. Last fall, LIINC sponsored a similar event for graduate students from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. The events feature poster displays and short presentations. The next interactive LIINC event focusing on student research will highlight graduate students from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. A session dedicated to the student research in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will be held later this spring.

LIINC was established with funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.



CONTACT: Lindsay Emery, WVU Research Corp.

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.