Raleigh, NC — The 2015 Emerging Issues Forum is highlighting ways to build North Carolina’s innovation economy, including a strong focus on the state’s public colleges and universities.
On Monday, UNC Wilmington researcher Jennifer McCall took the stage to talk about SeaTox Research Inc, a spinoff company that uses university-sponsored technology to quickly test the health of beaches, streams, and the seafood heading for your plate.
With a more rapid test, state and local regulators can better detect toxins and protect the public from potentially harmful products.
“We are trying to develop faster, easier, user-friendly tests to protect the nation’s seafood supply,” McCall said.
Getting her research from the lab to the marketplace has been a challenge, but McCall has gotten a boost from UNC Wilmington’s center forĀ Marine Biotechnology in North Carolina (MARBIONC). Designed to help identify and accelerate marketable discoveries, MARBIONC brings together experts in both marine science and business to help grow North Carolina’s economy.
“Translation is hard,” McCall said. “Scientists don’t usually make good business people.”
But McCall has found the right tools to help with that scientific translation. She earned a PhD in immunology from UNC Charlotte and enrolled in a postdoctoral program in theĀ business of biotechnology at UNC Wilmington. UNC W’s unique approach has allowed McCall to continue her biotechnology lab work while also earning an MBA.
“I was fortunate in that I was cross-trained,” she said. “I learned these ways to talk between science and business.”
And being housed at UNC Wilmington has made it possible for McCall to both continue her research and put energy into the SeaTox startup. “UNC W has a public-private collaborative environment that really fosters these kinds of projects, to get science where it can be publicly useful,” she said.
That’s exactly the kind of partnership that North Carolina needs to develop next-generation industries — and the good jobs that comes with them.