Bio and Life Science Innovation

How The University of St. Thomas is Solving Unmet Needs in Life Science

National Geographic, the BBC, and the Discovery Channel have helped take Life Sciences from labs to living rooms. To be in the field of life science is to be on the front lines of innovation.

At Ideator, we wondered what it was like to be an innovator in this field. Beena George, Dean of the Cameron School of Business at St. Thomas University was kind enough to share how the Master in Clinical Translation Management program at the University of St. Thomas manages innovation and continually maintains a successful program.

National Geographic, the BBC, and the Discovery Channel have helped take Life Sciences from labs to living rooms. Their riveting documentaries on everything from neuroscience to pharma, along with jaw-dropping shots of people, places, insects, flora, fauna, and more are nothing short of mesmerizing.

This area of science is fascinating, not only because it directly impacts every living thing, but because it’s a constantly changing discipline.

To be in the field of life science is to be on the front lines of innovation. It’s an industry where knowledge and discoveries from a year (or even a month) ago are very possibly already old news. The scientific studies of living organisms are literally making daily advancements.

At Ideator, we wondered what it was like to be an innovator in this field. So, we did some asking around and were rewarded with an opportunity to get the deets on how the Master in Clinical Translation Management program at the University of St. Thomas manages innovation. Beena George, Dean of the Cameron School of Business, was kind enough to share how the university tracks and continues to improve the success of the program.

To be in the field of life science
is to be on the forefront of innovation


1. What is the Master in Clinical Translation Management Program?

The MCTM program couples the knowledge of the business disciplines with an understanding of the clinical translation process.

Clinical translation is the process of turning basic discoveries that occur in laboratories into usable drugs, medical devices or clinical processes.
This translation/commercialization process is highly regulated, capital-intensive, and requires business expertise to achieve the desired goals.

As an example, drug development can cost upwards of one billion dollars and take over ten years to reach the market, representing staggering investments in capital and human resources. Many of these development projects fail along the way and bring increased costs to the biotech companies.

To avoid such failures and bring therapies and products to clinical use faster, a combination of scientific knowledge and business expertise is necessary.

Training in Clinical Translational Management endows students with a solid understanding of the biotechnology industry, as well as the business and regulatory savviness needed to assess a product’s commercial potential and to navigate the pathway of clinical translation.

2. How long is the program?
The one-year program for the third cohort will be delivered in a new hybrid format. Most courses will be delivered online and other courses will be delivered during four, evenly-spaced residency weeks during the year.

3. How many people participate in your program and what are their roles?
We have multiple stakeholders who make up our program:
– We developed this program in collaboration with the Houston Methodist Research Institute (HMRI).
– Multiple departments at the university and at HMRI. Since this is an interdisciplinary program, it pulls in faculty from different departments including business, math, and philosophy.
– We are currently recruiting students for our third cohort.

4. As it relates to any program, how do you define success?
A successful ‘innovation program’ will address an unmet need in the industry and it will have the potential to contribute to the growth of the economy.

In the case of our program, we help to make the translational process faster and more efficient and help bring cures to the market quicker.

5. How do you define success for your program specifically?
Since our program is quite new, we’re not at a stage to measure success using typical measures such as market share.

Our ultimate goals – and hence the proof of our success – focus around providing translational solutions faster and more efficiently, bringing solutions to market quicker, and contributing to economy growth.

Having said that, we are now focused on early stage goals such as
– Awareness of the program: We use the number of applicants as a proxy.
– Acceptance of the program: Retention and success of our students.
– The success of our students: E.g. winning competitions in the biotech commercialization space as well as placement opportunities.

From a quality assessment standpoint and considering whether the program meets the needs of the practice community, we look at:
– The match between the program content and the needs of the practitioners. We examine this through constant interaction with the scientific community.
– The number of projects that our students are able to successfully complete for investigators/researchers in the life sciences.
– Speed and efficiency in translation: There are published numbers /averages on cost and time to market for biopharma products. When we’ve trained graduates shepherding the process, we would expect these (cost and time) numbers to drop.
– Growth: It is our expectation that as trained managers become available, there will be an increase in the number of life sciences companies that are established in a region.

6. What tips or best practices have allowed you to reach success and continue to excel in innovation and entrepreneurship?
Engagement with the practitioner community, working with a strong partner, and a willingness to develop content that addresses the problems in the field have contributed to our success.

From the perspective of an administrator developing an academic program in a new domain/subject area, it was important for us to have a partner who was recognized as a thought leader in the area. In addition, they needed to possess the desire and capabilities to support the development of a new academic program. HMRI has been a great partner for us in these regards.

The partnership with HMRI came about because of our university’s focus on the healthcare space in Houston and an already-established connection with HMRI.


A big THANK YOU to Beena George for her insights. Check out more information on the Master in Clinical Translation Management program at the University of St. Thomas, here.

If you’re interested in innovating faster, smarter and easier in life sciences or any other industry, sign up for Ideator today.

Subscribe to Receive Impactful Innovation Resources and Info
Follow us