Marc Malandro
Marc Malandro of the University of Pittsburgh. Photo by Rob Larson

As the University of Pittsburgh comes back to life after spring break, it’s a fantastic time to catch up with Marc Malandro and the exciting work he is doing across campus and the city. Founding Director of the Innovation Institute and Vice Chancellor for Technology Management and Commercialization at Pitt, Marc previously co-founded Sagres Discovery, a systems biology company focused on the molecular basis of cancer.

Monday, March 13

Traffic into Oakland will be crazy since the students are back from spring break for their final push to the end of this semester.

The week begins with a senior team meeting in the Salk Conference Room at the Innovation Institute. All of our conference rooms are named in honor of important Pitt innovators. We will start planning our classes, programs, workshops and events for the new fiscal/academic year starting on July 1st.

Onto the Cathedral of Learning for a corporate engagement team meeting. Pitt is forming an Office of Corporate Engagement and developing policies and processes for better engaging with the business community.

Back to the Innovation Institute to meet with senior leadership from the School of Medicine to continue work on supplementing the curriculum of medical students, residents and faculty with training in translational research and entrepreneurship.

Heading Downtown to the Cabaret at Theater Square with my wife Jennifer and our daughters Jessica and Delaney to see Tony Award nominee Judy Kuhn perform. We are subscribers to the Cabaret Series and supporters of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh CLO.

Greg Coticchia, director of the Blast Furnace Student Accelerator (far left) and Marc Malandro (far right) with a winning student team at Pitt’s StartUp Blitz competition.

Tuesday, March 14

Going to the UPMC Enterprises offices in Bakery Square to discuss plans for a new building at Pitt that will bring together groups from across campus, industry and new startup companies to focus on data-driven innovation. We’ll tour Google’s offices to get ideas for how the space can be focused on creativity and innovation.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my days for one-on-one meetings with my team. We’ll discuss new innovations developed at Pitt, potential companies who want to license and develop these innovations, the formation of new startup companies and the “issue de jour.”

Off to the Eye and Ear Institute to kick-off a new initiative focused on minimally-invasive robotic surgery for the head and neck. Dr. Johnson and his team are developing new technologies and devices, and we are supporting them in getting these important discoveries to patients.

Wednesday, March 15

A highlight of my day will be having lunch on the South Side with Dr. Paul Kornblith, an accomplished neurosurgeon and entrepreneur whose technology was the basis for a Pittsburgh company called Precision Therapeutics (now Helomics). He works with the Innovation Institute as an Executive in Residence, and is a great mentor and friend who really understands the life and health science business community in Pittsburgh.

Back on campus to meet with Don Taylor, executive director of a new health sciences program called sciVelo.

Thursday, March 16

I am presenting at the Council of Dean’s meeting about ways to increase the numbers of partnerships that Pitt has with the community.

Then back to the Cathedral to meet with the Patent and Copyright Policy teams, who are are looking at campus policies and modifying them where appropriate to ensure Pitt is at the cutting edge of the way we interact with our partners.

Now the fun begins: dinner with Jennifer at Seviche and then to the Benedum Center to see Steve Martin and Martin Short. I have been looking forward to this for months as these are two of the people who really made me laugh growing up, and by all measures, Steve Martin is a genius. I’ll make Jennifer listen to Steve Martin’s banjo and folk music on the way downtown.

Marc and his wife Jennifer and enjoying a sunny day on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Friday, March 17

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but the parade was last Saturday, so the traffic won’t be too bad. When you commute from Gibsonia to Oakland, you get obsessed with the traffic. KDKA radio and the traffic app Waze keep me sane (somewhat).

My only meeting today is with the Conflict of Interest Committee, a group of faculty and senior administrators that provide oversight of our activities and guidance on how to manage commercialization and partnership activities with the research activity and patient care on campus. We are presenting two new opportunities that will hopefully become new companies.

Our partner and sponsor, PNC Bank, is helping us host member companies, advisors and partners of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence for the Penguins game against the New Jersey Devils at the PPG Paints Arena. Fingers are crossed for a Penguins win.

Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19

We’re heading to Canton, Ohio to celebrate our oldest daughter Jessica’s graduation from Pitt with our families, and then we’ll go to our place on Lake Erie. We’ll visit the Ottawa County National Wildlife Refuge to see the bald eagles and the start of the spring migration of the warblers. The weather has been so odd and warm this winter that no one is really sure when the migration will begin, but we will take our chances.

We’ll round out the weekend with live acoustic music at the Canoe Club in Marblehead, before heading back to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

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Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...