On March 9th 2009, the UW-RF Tissue and Cellular Innovation Center or TCIC formally opened at a major campus event held in the UC Ballroom. This event, hosted jointly by then Chancellor Connie Foster’s office, the WiSys Technology Foundation and the TCIC culminated a year-long effort to transform the Center for Advanced Cell Biology and Imaging Center (Lyden Lab) into a new enterprise. First proposed by the WiSys Technology Foundation from Madison during February of 2008, the TCIC joined the Nanotechnology Center at UW-Platteville as one of two such centers in the UW-System. Plans call for a total of 6 UW Innovation Centers to be developed in the coming years. The other three will be at UW-Steven Point, UW-Stout, UW-LaCrosse and UW-Whitewater with each focused on different topics and areas of expertise. The TCIC is focused on tissue engineering and stem cell biology. These centers represent a new paradigm for the participating comprehensive campuses in which the traditional mission of teaching and training will blend with cutting edge research and economic development-related industrial (and clinical) collaborations. Plans call for the Centers to become self-sustaining within a five year period.
The March 9th event began with a 3 hour symposium and poster session in which collaborating fellows and other researchers presented a series of related presentations on topics of potential or current interface with the TCIC. In total, 11 presentations were made by collaborators from 3 UW-campuses (UW-Stout, UW-Stevens Point and UW-RF), 3 clinical collaborators from across the region (Marshfield Clinic, River Falls Hospital Cancer Center and UMinn Medical School) and finally 4 representatives of industrial collaborators (Phillips Plastics, BioE, Hysitron, and CAP Biomaterials) from both Wisconsin and Minnesota. These presentations were followed by comments from Chancellor Foster, Maliyakal John (Managing Director of WiSys Technology Foundation), Kris Andrews (UW-System Vice President for Federal Relations) and Dr. Bob Nelson (1990 UWRF Distinguish Alumni and senior research scientist at Regions Hospital). The final highlight of the day was the keynote address delivered by the Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce, Dick Leinenkugel. Secretary Leinenkugel provided state cabinet level approval and encouragement for the concepts represented by the TCIC particularly and the Innovation Centers concept generally. That endorsement recognized the immense potential of developing active collaborations between UW campuses and clinical or industrial partners as we have done over the past year.
Following lunch and the keynote address, the day finished up with Dr. Tim Lyden, Director of the TCIC presenting a short “Virtual Tour” which highlighted current and future research, teaching and outreach activities of the TCIC. This was followed by a presentation ceremony at which collaborators and current/former TCIC students received acknowledgements of their contributions to this exciting new idea. Overall throughout the day more than 125 people attended the event including students, faculty, administrators, collaborators, economic development experts, state politicians, congressional office staff members and regional press representatives. With the formal opening completed... the real work of the TCIC now begins!