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Innovation Commercialization: Transforming Rutgers Research through the TechAdvance Senior Fellowship

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Students who pursue a Master of Business and Science (MBS) degree at Rutgers University have innumerable advantages—from Rutgers’ location in the heart of New Jersey's tech and life sciences corridor to its position as a research powerhouse and premier academic health center, to its recognition and renown as a leader in STEM-based education.

Rutgers is also a place of great innovation, as MBS student Aparna Jadhav knows firsthand.

Last year, Jadhav was selected for the first-ever TechAdvance Internship (now the TechAdvance Senior Fellowship) and had a unique opportunity to help Rutgers researchers commercialize their innovations. TechAdvance, a unit of Rutgers’ Innovation Ventures, provides gap funding to Rutgers researchers who are aspiring to commercialize their inventions.

Selected from a competitive pool of applicants universitywide, Jadhav successfully completed her internship this summer and is now helping the TechAdvance Senior Fellowship program gear up for its second year. Jadhav, who is pursuing an MBS degree in Drug Discovery & Development, recently spoke with us about her experience.

How did you find out about the TechAdvance Internship opportunity?

I was continuously looking for fellowships or internships where I could use my science knowledge while also learning more about technology transfer and how research is or has been commercialized. I worked as a patent analyst in my early career and still had interest in that area. I finally saw the TechAdvance Senior Internship and thought it was a perfect fit for me, so I applied.

What aspects of your MBS education were you able to apply?

First, MBS’s Fundamentals of Intellectual Property course. As I was learning the theoretical part in the classroom, I was learning the practical and operational aspects through my internship. So that was a very good match. And I enjoyed doing that.

Next, MBS's Communications & Leadership course – we learn about business communications and networking in class, but through the TechAdvance experience, I got to put both into practice. Not just speaking with different people—my coworkers, researchers, and leaders—but also through email communications and attending department meetings. Listening to experts and industry leaders was a great learning experience.

Also, each semester, TechAdvance organizes a “boot camp” for Rutgers’ principal investigators (PIs), so they can understand the application and funding process for their research. I was actively involved in facilitating these virtual educational events—my key tasks were coordinating with the speakers and creating and / or organizing related materials. There was a lot of communication and planning involved, and good time-management skills were essential; it was an exciting role, and it was very exciting to meet new people.

I was lucky to get a job offer around the same time, so I started working as a senior scientific analyst for a clinical analytics startup company in Somerset, New Jersey. My role is to analyze drug-related information for preclinical and clinical phases, generate competitive insights, and present and support the secondary research needs of our pharma clients. MBS’s Practical Aspects of Clinical Trial Design/Conduct and Fundamentals of Regulatory Affairs courses were really helpful for my job.

What was the steepest learning curve?

Networking. I’m shy and was reluctant to network at first, but it was necessary to do my job. As TechAdvance works with multiple departments and PIs at Rutgers, there were lots of opportunities to connect and interact. My project leader manages the TechAdvance program, and she always encouraged me to connect and communicate with people. It helped to make new connections and better understand the operations.

What was the best part of your internship?

Working for Rutgers and being a part of Rutgers and contributing to Rutgers—I feel it is one of the best places in New Jersey in helping the scientific community. I learned so much while I’ve been here. The internship is a small assistance kind of thing, but I’m getting to help my project leader and my associate, and it gives me a lot of pleasure and happiness. I am actually going to train the next Senior Fellow who is coming in—I can transfer what I’ve learned so the new fellow can help the TechAdvance project manager right away.

From the MBS program, I learned a great mix of science and business. Through the Tech Advance Internship (Senior Fellowship), I gained a solid understanding of translational research and how research is commercialized and/or licensed—and through both programs, I got to practice a good deal of communication and networking! I love it here.

I highly appreciate the TechAdvance team—especially Eusebio Pires, Ph.D., and Sherry Onweller—for giving me this opportunity, and want to thank MBS advisors Kathleen Cashman-Walter, Abbe Rosenthal, and Beth Ann Murphy, Ph.D., for their guidance.

three people standing around a red sculpture of Rutgers University's signature "Block R"

The TechAdvance team (from left): Aparna Jadhav, Sherry Onweller, and Eusebio Pires
Author(s): 
Jen Reiseman-Briscoe
Published On: 
09/03/2021