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Review of the Biomedical Proposals to the 2005 Wright Centers of Innovation Award Program of the State of Ohio: Letter Report
outstanding multi-organizational collaborations of Ohio’s existing private and public organizations in the core competencies of bioscience, information technology, power and propulsion, advanced material, instruments, controls and electronics. To receive the designation of a Wright Center of Innovation, a multi-organizational collaboration must be of sufficient scale and quality to move Ohio toward a position of international leadership in a technological discipline within these areas of importance to the growth of Ohio’s economy. It must be a statewide technological resource, funded by cost shares from industry, federal grants, and other sources on the order of $30 to $60 million for an operating period of three years, with plans to scale up in the future to levels of research activity and economic development measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) was asked to conduct an independent review of four biomedical proposals submitted in response to the 2005 WCI program announcement. To undertake the review of the proposals, the NRC appointed a 15-member committee with collective expertise across the breadth of biomedical science and its commercial applications. In particular, the committee’s scientific expertise included molecular genetics and genomics, bioinformatics, cell biology, biochemistry, ophthalmology, nano-biotechnology, cancer research, obesity, diabetes, nutrition, biophysics, immunology, neuroscience, drug discovery, radiation and imaging technologies. The committee’s commercial competence included venture-capital investment, drug discovery, start-up formation, and technology licensing. (Appendix B contains short biographical sketches of the committee members.)
Before final appointment to the committee, prospective members were screened for potential fiduciary and/or financial interests they or their immediate family members may have had in any of the organizations and institutions involved in the proposals. At the start of its February meeting, the committee held a discussion of bias and conflict of interest and reviewed its composition relative to the expertise needed for the assessment of the proposals. None of the committee members had a conflict of interest. Issues of bias were also aired, and the balance and fairness of the review committee was determined to be sound.
The committee was charged with conducting a scientific review and assessment of the commercial potential of the submissions, taking into account the contribution of both the infrastructure and operational plans. The committee was requested to evaluate how well each proposal fulfilled the goals and objectives of the WCI program and to identify the proposal or proposals of greatest merit for consideration by the Ohio Office of Development (which has the authority to designate and fund Wright Centers of Innovation).
Each proposal was assigned to one and in some cases, two committee members as its primary reviewers according to relevant expertise. The program and business plans of each proposal were also reviewed by every other member of the committee; that is, the full committee membership was assigned as secondary reviewers for all proposals. The