LaunchPad Focuses on Catalyzing Early Stage Research: Q&A with Ruben Rathnasingham

Ruben Rathnasingham, PhD, associate director of Early Translational Research at UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute, is leading the team responsible for LaunchPad. In this Q&A, he discusses the project and how it can benefit researchers.

Q: What is LaunchPad and why is it a valuable tool?

LaunchPad is an online resource that features dozens of videos – with more on the way – of investigators, administrators and industry experts sharing their experiences working through five keys to successful translational research – unmet needs, target product profile, collaboration, development plan and organizational support.

LaunchPad, a project of UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), is designed to highlight the experiences and accomplishments of UCSF’s translational researchers, and to support them in their efforts to develop beneficial medical products.

► Read more about LaunchPad

► Visit the LaunchPad website

I talk to UCSF researchers every day who share their concerns about the challenges in translating basic research into clinical practice. In addition to having to master actual science and technology, investigators developing new clinical solutions need to navigate complex issues related to intellectual property, market analysis, product development, as well as clinical, regulatory and reimbursement strategies.

In particular, through my involvement with CTSI’s Catalyst Awards Program, which supports the development of diagnostics, devices, therapeutics and digital health, it became clear that there is a need to provide a venue where translational researchers at UCSF can both share and benefit from insights, tools and resources to help navigate these issues. We created LaunchPad to meet that need.

Q: What did you learn in the process of creating LaunchPad?

First, there is amazing translational research going on at UCSF!

Through awardees of the Catalyst Awards, it’s clear that these researchers have had very different experiences translating early research toward clinical practice, and many of them are hungry for information targeting their specific needs along the translational path. Researchers who have already navigated these issues are happy to share their experience with their peers, and industry experts are also looking for easy and accessible ways to share their knowledge and forge meaningful partnerships.

Ultimately, I learned that this is a much-needed resource, and we’re actively looking for partners and sponsors to ensure that it is sustainable and continues to expand.

Q: What else should people know about LaunchPad?

This is a tool that’s available for researchers at every stage. We also hope that hearing from others will encourage dialogue, collaborations and the sharing of valuable knowledge at UCSF, and beyond.

And hopefully this is just the beginning. We invite UCSF researchers to get involved by telling their stories and to be part of the effort to expand this valuable resource.

Q: Who is behind LaunchPad?

LaunchPad is a project of the Early Translational Research Program of UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). It’s also a collaborative effort, with wide ranging support from CTSI, UCSF researchers and administrators, industry partners, and contributors and advisors from UCSF’s Innovation, Technology and Alliances (ITA) and the California Institute for Quantitative Bioscience (QB3).