UCSF Entrepreneurship Center
Stephanie Marrus, the director of UCSF’s Entrepreneur Center, has provided critical assistance to graduate student inventors preparing to launch start-up companies. Her program has gained national recognition, however it is still reliant on grants to fund the curriculum. To raise its profile, Marrus approached me about helping generate more publicity for the general public.
My suggestion was to try to humanize their work in Life Sciences. While their work was noble, it was also quite clinical and academic in nature. My approach was to take human interest angles to their story. All the life-changing inventions could be chronicled, however by targeting real people’s life stories and using layman’s terms for a better understanding, we could reach a broader audience.
The two UCSF students that I focused on were Charvi Shetty and Ernesto Diaz Flores. Shetty grew up in the outskirts of Bombay, India witnessing her asthmatic mother and brother struggling to breathe in her air-polluted homeland. That experience eventually led to her becoming interested in bioengineering at the University of California. While at UCSF graduate school, she developed an affordable medical device that measures lung function and capacity, and detects early onset of asthma. Diaz Flores, born in El Salvador and educated in Spain, was an accomplished tennis player and flamenco dancer who fractured his left foot while doing his PhD work in Madrid. He learned first-hand how difficult it was to maneuver with his mishap, which led him to invent a mobility device that allowed wheelchair-bound people to both sit and stand, and was more narrow than conventional wheelchairs which allowed entrance through narrow doors and restrooms.
It was these two human stories that was the center piece of the article that I authored, which was both posted on the UCSF website and utilized in my pitching of the Entrepreneur Center’s story to business and education media in the U.S.