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New biomanufacturing program to advance impactful technology at UW and beyond

Bill Murphy, a Harvey D. Spangler professor of biomedical engineering and professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has a new assignment.

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Bill Murphy, a Harvey D. Spangler professor of biomedical engineering and professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has a new assignment. Starting with a launch event today, Murphy joins a new state biomanufacturing initiative to advance stem cell and regenerative medicine efforts on campus and beyond. The initiative includes a Biomanufacturing Center of Excellence to support technological innovation and workforce development, and create groundbreaking technologies such as new cells, tissues, pharmaceuticals, and therapeutic medical devices.

Murphy remains a faculty member with UW–Madison’s College of Engineering and School of Medicine and Public Health, but steps down as co-director of the SCRMC. In this interview, Murphy talks about his hopes for the biomanufacturing initiative and a personal passion.

IB: Tell us about the initiative, the Biomanufacturing Center of Excellence, and what the university hopes to accomplish with it?

Murphy: The Center really is a three-pillared effort. There is an institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison that will be focused on new technology innovation. There is an incubator facility at University Research Park that’s going to be focused on lowering the barriers for starting new companies in biomanufacturing, and there is BioForward, which will be focused on interactions with larger companies and basically expanding the scope of the biomanufacturing industry in the state of Wisconsin. What I think is really unique about it is that it’s truly a partnership between early-stage technology development all the way through to expansion of the industry in the state of Wisconsin. So what the university hopes to accomplish with it is both more efficient development of technologies that can impact society and training of students who are more well equipped to start new companies and to develop technology efficiently.

I would just really emphasize is that this is truly a partnership. There are a number of institutes across the country, centers across the country, that are developing technologies that really are more academically focused, meaning they are not necessarily focused on finding the most direct path to commercialization and clinical impact. What we really want to do here is create a holistic effort so that each individual technology that we take on at the institute has a high degree of potential to go out and become its own company, or its own licensed and existing company, and accelerate the path toward helping patients.

That’s really quite important for us to draw that connection. Rather than essentially creating technologies and hoping that a company will take it on and disseminate it and turn it into something that’s impactful, we want to push that process and ensure that it happens. Our hope is that our hit rate on developing new technologies is going to increase dramatically with this new institute and this new center of excellence effort.

IB: It sounds like much of your work will be dedicated to aiding technology transfer to the private sector.

Murphy: “There definitely is a component of technology transfer, but the way I would describe it is that it’s more at about increasing the likelihood of impact on society. One mechanism is technology transfer but really it has to do with dissemination of these technologies. How do we get them to affect the most people?”

IB: To what extent do you think your work with UW–Madison’s College of Engineering and School of Medicine and Public Health helped prepare you for this new post?

Murphy: “It has helped prepare me quite a bit. My work over the last 14 years at the university has been focused on new technology development and developing technologies that can have an impact on industry. In addition to that, I’ve been involved in training and teaching students who are increasingly interested in having an impact on industry. So it’s had quite a substantial impact on my role in this new post.”

(Continued)

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