BME 385J: Technology Assessment and Transfer

Course Syllabus

Frazier and Mosteller state: "If we are to have good medical care, we need to know what works, and this cannot be known without systematic technology assessment. The intuitions of physicians and the guesses of biologists are not adequate guides to the best treatments [49]." The process of medical technology assessment is critical in determining whether a technique that is promising in the laboratory is commercialized and translated to routine clinical care. Since many of UT’s students in the "Cellular and Molecular Imaging for Diagnostics and Therapeutics" IGERT program will pursue careers in industry, their graduate education should encompass this important topic in a meaningful way. Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) is a philosophy of education and pedagogical method ideally suited for assisting in this task, being grounded in the belief that intellect is not limited to the academy and entrepreneurship is not limited to business. Intellectual entrepreneurs, both inside and outside the university, take risks and seize opportunities, discover and create knowledge, innovate, collaborate and solve problems in any number of social realms: corporate, non-profit, government, and education.

In collaboration with the Austin Technology Incubator and utilizing the IE platform (with the assistance of Dr. Richard Cherwitz), Dr. Joel Wiggins will teach a semester long course entitled "Technology Transfer and Assessment" (BME 385J). The course, which will be cross-listed in other UT departments participating in the IGERT program, has three components: (1) Main assignment: students will develop a plan for assessing and commercializing a technology they are researching or would like to research. (2) Supporting Tools/Skills: In-class workshops and exercises will give students background in entrepreneurship, market dynamics, intellectual property, technology assessment and commercialization, resource development, team building and project management. (3) Technical Assistance of Campus Experts: Various speakers with experience in the fields of medical technology research and commercialization will speak to the class to offer their expertise and input (areas such as technology licensing, patents, entrepreneurship, etc.)

The underlying objective of the course is to provide students (regardless of whether they aspire to academic or nonacademic careers) with a better understanding of the process of commercializing a technology and framing their research by market demands. Such knowledge will enable students to invest their energies studying significant problems that will make a difference not only in their research career but also for the benefit of society.


Dr. Joel Wiggins is the Director of the Austin Technology Incubator. In addition to hands-on experience working with companies on technology commercialization, for the last three years Joel has helped develop the IE philosophy and method, having team-taught a graduate-level course in Entrepreneurship for students in the arts, sciences, humanities, social sciences and professional schools. He will bring together key individuals both at UT and in the Austin community, marshalling the relevant ideas needed to deliver the course content.