The UC Regents meeting took place on January 27, 2023. Two meetings took place with the first in the morning beginning at 9:45 A.M. where a meeting occurred among the Special Committee on Innovation Transfer and Entrepreneurship. The second meeting took place at 3:00 P.M. where the Public Engagement and Development Committee discussed a number of issues related to the UC and health disparities.

The first meeting was notable through Chancellor Wilcox’s presentation which provided a summary of the Inland Empire’s innovation and economic growth efforts, highlighting UC Riverside’s role as the area’s sole intensive research institution. Topics included cutting-edge faculty research, local business ventures, collaborative efforts with the region, and major infrastructure investments aimed at enhancing the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

In addition, a second item was discussed which pertained to an update on the CHIPS And Science Act And its impact on the National Science Foundation, University-Based Research and Technology Transfer. UC Vice President for Research and Innovation Theresa Maldonado and UC Associate Vice President for Federal Governmental Relations Chris Harrington updated the committee on the federal landscape of IP support, specifically on the CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS Act) and its potential to support university-based research and technology transfer initiatives. 

The CHIPS Act was previously signed into law in the summer of 2022. In addition to significant funding for federal investments in computer chip manufacturing, the bill also directed the NSF to establish a new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate and authorized the creation of several new technology transfer and commercialization programs. This meeting was adjourned at 1:30 P.M.

To begin the second meeting, Chancellor Wilcox introduced three elected officials, who discussed regional initiatives related to economic development, workforce training, health care, and education.

Wilcox gracefully introduced Mayor Patricia Lock-Dawson, who was elected as the 18th Mayor of Riverside in November 2020, following her 9 years of service on the Riverside Unified School District Board of Trustees. A Riverside native and the owner of PLD Consulting, she has played a significant role in securing funds for regional conservation, habitat, and infrastructure projects. 

Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes was then introduced as the representative of California’s 60th Assembly District. She serves as the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy. She is the first Latina millennial elected to the State Assembly and she focuses primarily on issues such as veterans, public safety, transportation, higher education, and the economy. Last to be introduced was Senator Richard Roth who serves as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development as well as several policy committees and serves on the Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response.

Following these introductions, UCR Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine Deborah Deas, alongside Executive Vice President UC Health Carrie Byington, and fourth-year medical student Patrick Samones presented updates on the successes and challenges of expanding the community-based model to address the physician shortage in the region. Riverside and San Bernardino County currently occupy the bottom quartile in many measurable health outcomes including diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, Dr. David Lo expressed his explicit mission to improve the health of the community and presented the latest research on air quality and asthma in the Inland Empire, which has contributed to health disparities in the area.

Susan Hackwood, UC Riverside’s Dean Emeritus of the Bourns College of Engineering and Director of the UCR Science to Policy Program, presented the third and final item on the agenda, providing a brief overview of the Science to Policy (S2P) Program. The program offers hands-on training and a platform to early-career scientists to develop the skills needed to engage in the policy world as scientists, communicators, legislative advisors, or science advocates. S2P Fellow Jacqueline Garrido, an electrical engineering graduate student, shared her experience as a fellow. She detailed how the program develops next generation leaders and policy makers in science, industry, and government through networking, professional development and mentoring opportunities. This meeting was adjourned at 4:50 P.M.

Both UC Regents meetings emphasized the need to address healthcare disparities, and improve the health of the community. The school has faced challenges but is committed to making headway in addressing the issues raised and ensuring the delivery of quality medical education and healthcare to the community.