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New UB medical school goes beyond teaching

The University at Buffalo opened its new medical school on the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus, downtown, last year. But as WBFO's Chris Caya reports the school is doing much more than training the next generation of physicians and healthcare providers.

The opening of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in January 2018, also marked the launch of UB RIS2E2           

"UB RIS2E2 is Research, Innovation, Simulation, Structure, Education and Engineering," said Kim Grant its Business Development Officer.

The state-of-the-art Medical School has one of the largest medical simulation centers in the country. And when there's no classes, the facility can be rented out for medical research and development. Grant says UB RIS2E2 is attracting national and international companies.          

"Companies that our physicians work with because they work with those supplies and equipment in the hospitals. But now they're looking for a place to practice and teach and do in-services on existing products. And we're providing them an environment where they do can do a debrief room, do some training, go in here, practice it, go back," Grant said.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
Kim Grant, UB Business Development Officer

The school, she says, is not only fulfilling its academic mission it's creating an alternative revenue stream for UB.        

"If you were in Boston, or San Francisco and a cadaver would cost $5,000 and here they would be $1500. So there are value adds that because of commute times, because of the cost, Buffalo has a real strong value proposition for innovative device and pharmaceutical companies to come here," Grant said.

The new Medical School is also attractive because of its close proximity to hospitals and research facilities on the Medical Campus.        

"In the perfect world you'll be able to go to lunch, think up an idea, go upstairs, 3D print it, test it in animal or cadaveric model, and then if it actually worked - work with School of Management and Engineering folks to create a real prototype that you'd walk across the street and be able to work on a patient." Grant says it's part of the culture shift that's happening at UB.        

"All of the faculty clinicians are encouraging this type of interdisciplinary, innovation, entrepreneurial, all the things that are echoed at the Innovation Hub, at the Center of Excellence, at 43North, the Innovation Center. And you can see it in the companies that we're working with," Grant said.

One of the companies is Legworks. The start-up makes high-quality prosthetics for amputees. Co-founder Brandon Burke says the company moved from San Francisco, to Buffalo, in 2017, to be closer to its Toronto based engineering team and to take advantage of the region's assets.          

"The Buffalo ecosystem, for supporting small companies like ours, was something that we noticed from the first day that we stepped foot here," Burke said.

A year after arriving, Legworks won a $500,000 prize in the 43North startup competition. The company now has 8 full-time employees. Its All-Terrain Knee is sold in more than 30 countries. And Burke says UB RIS2E2 is helping them navigate available resources.          

"We also have been connected to multiple internship opportunities to work with UB students from the management school to the social work school. We're also engaging in conversations with researchers at UB," Burke said.

After hearing what downtown was like ten years ago, Burke says, seeing what the Medical Campus has become is incredible.         

"And I think it's really excited about what the potential is by putting businesses and students and medical professionals all in one space. And what it's going to do for innovation and for the ecosystem down here as a whole," Burke said.

It's only been open about a year, but Grant says, the Medical School is having a positive economic impact downtown. And she says, there's nowhere to go but up.

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