Notre Dame Student Researcher Participates in Biomedical Entrepreneurship Crash Course

The Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and Development funds graduate student to attend SPARK at Stanford 


Each year, SPARK, a Stanford University initiative that provides the education and mentorship in order to advance research discoveries from the bench to the bedside, hosts a diverse group to participate in a 12-day training course in biotech innovation and entrepreneurship. The program provides an understanding of how biotechnology products, such as medical devices, food science, and general medical science, and companies are created, established, managed, advertised, and funded.

Ricardo Romero, graduate student of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program and researcher in the Harper Cancer Research Institute, had the opportunity to attend the program through the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (Indiana CTSI). Support for Romero’s participation in the program was provided by the Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and Development (Warren Center). Students and professionals from a variety of institutions and countries participated in the course in order to grow their skills in innovation by working in groups to develop real product ideas and potential start-up companies.

Romero currently works with Laurie Littlepage, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, on reversing cancer progression. Specifically, he researches breast cancer metastasis, or occurrence in bones. When describing the knowledge he gained from the experience, Romero said, “I loved the opportunity to attend the training course and because of the Warren Center, I was able to see other aspects of science that I hadn’t previously experienced, learn from such a culturally diverse group of people, and better understand how to utilize my research skills for potential commercialization opportunities.”

The course placed an emphasis on intellectual property and put attendees into groups where they developed real biomedical product concepts as well as biotech business plans. Lectures and workshops helped develop the attendees’ entrepreneurship skills before the groups presented their completed business and product proposals to a panel of experts.

“One of the goals of the Indiana CTSI is to provide Notre Dame researchers with the skills necessary to translate scientific discovery into improved patient outcomes. The SPARK course complements our efforts by educating researchers like Romero on the commercial development process and how he can make real world impact of his research discoveries,” said Richard Taylor, interim director of the Warren Center, deputy director of the Indiana CTSI, and professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

For more information on the Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and Development at the University of Notre Dame, please visit

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) is a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame, as well as public and private partnerships. For more information on the Indiana CTSI at the University of Notre Dame, please visit


Brandi Klingerman / Research Communications Specialist

Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.8183 / @UNDResearch

About Notre Dame Research:

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.

Originally published by Brandi Klingerman at on September 26, 2016.