On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Multidisciplinary Research Building (MRB) and the Office of Technology Partnerships hosted their first inaugural Lunch and Learn to discuss MRB’s Life Science’s incubator. The incubator’s first tenant, Murrieta Genomics, is partnering with Beckman Coulter, to provide the free monthly series on the last Tuesday of each month in the MRB Seminar Room from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The event was led by David Pearson, the managing director of Entrepreneurial Programs at UCR’s Office of Technology Partnerships. He stated that the series is in collaboration with Murrieta Genomics, the provider of genomics services and a launch pad for genomic sequencing startups. Pearson stated that he is in charge of getting the incubator equipped, staffed and filled with tenant companies during the course of this year. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to help bring this incubator to life,” said Pearson.

In a statement sent to The Highlander, Pearson wrote, “We in the Incubator aim to be great neighbors in the multi-disciplinary neighborhood. We hope that this initial offering of a Lunch ‘n’ Learn series, focused on bringing education about state-of-the-art technologies by leading companies and national academic experts, can mature into a standard educational fixture.”

The overall objective of the Office of Technology Partnerships and Murrieta Genomics is to create a space in the Inland Empire that will welcome technology based startups from UCR and from the community, stated Pearson. Pearson also stated that they currently have partners from Loma Linda University, City of Hope and California Baptist University who have expressed interest in UCR’s incubator because of a lack of access at their institutions. 

Members of the audience consisted of UCR researchers and graduate students who had previously done genome sequencing research in San Diego before the implementation of an incubator at UCR. According to Pearson, San Diego is home to 600 biotech companies and 80 research institutes in comparison to Riverside’s two biotech companies and one research institute. Pearson stated, “We are not trying to be San Diego, we’re trying to figure out how to do things right for UCR and for the community here. We want to build our own brand of entrepreneurial excellence and I think it is through collaboration.”

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Jay Goth, co-founder of Murrieta Genomics, discussed the work that they do at the genomics sequencing lab as well as the qualities they look for in researchers. According to the Murrieta Genomics website, they are “dedicated to advancing the use of genomic sequencing in precision medicine, agriculture, forensics, veterinary and direct to consumer applications.” Goth stated, “Genomics is much more than sequencing, it’s interpreting the data to guide new product development of medicines, diagnostics and agricultural applications.” Murrieta Genomics along with the Office of Technology Partnerships are looking for academic researchers and industry experts to ensure that UCR has access to leading advisors and funding to advance genomics research toward commercialization.

The MRB Life Sciences Incubator is funded by a $2.5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration given to UCR last May and is projected to be fully equipped by next month. The next Lunch and Learn event will be held on Tuesday, March 31 at 11:30 p.m. in the MRB Seminar Room. The main topics to be discussed will be genome assembly for agricultural technology and the Beckman Ultracentrifuge resource for MRB researchers.