Johnson & Johnson honors CWRU grad students

BioComm seeks to accelerate commercialization of biomedical research

News Release: Thursday, November 29, 2012

CLEVELAND – Case Western Reserve University graduate student JeShaune Jackson admires innovation. He also knows that ideas derived in a research lab often end up shelved.

So the 25-year-old Weatherhead School of Management student, with other Case Western Reserve students from medicine, law, business and other disciplines, collaborated to create BioComm, an organization to help biomedical research make the difficult leap from lab to commercial market.

BioComm, which Jackson founded, recently took second place—and a $5,000 prize—out of 74 student teams in the 2012 Be Vital Challenge, a national competition sponsored by the consumer health company Johnson & Johnson to inspire students “to be vital creatively.”


Long-term, the vision for BioComm is an organization that develops business plans and strategies for on-campus biomedical research and to host workshops to teach othrs how to take a product from design to distribution.

Pooling limited resources, including spare time, Jackson's BioComm group made a video for the Be Vital competition.

(video link:

"What I'm trying to do,” Jackson explains in the group’s video contest entry, “is focus on entrepreneurial biotechnology, pretty much catalyzing technologies from the lab to get them to the outside world as actual products, from bench to bedside."

Jackson, with graduate students Uram Lee, Wesley Mershon and Brandon Pochatila, accepted the award on Nov. 16 in Orlando, Fla., where Case Western Reserve finished behind only UCLA, which received a $10,000 prize.

Jackson says he and others in his group were inspired by CWRU's interdisciplinary academic program Fusion – which combines the brainpower of students in business management, law and science/engineering programs for translational research.

The BioComm group had some guidance from the university's Technology Transfer Office, but BioComm wasn’t created for course credit.

Jackson says he hopes to bridge the gap that prevents scientific discoveries from getting to people who need help. He says scientists tend not to understand commercialization, and professionals trained to translate research into marketable business ventures tend to take on relatively few. Research can get lost in the maze.

Jackson said the $5,000 J&J award will be used to keep BioComm going, while seeking new challenges. He knows there are plenty to be found. Besides being an MBA candidate at Weatherhead, he has been a commercialization intern at the Cleveland Clinic, where he has been involved in regenerative medicine research.

The BioComm business plan submitted for the Be Vital competition describes Cleveland as an emerging world medical center and a perfect location for start-up biotech companies. Jackson says he has sought wide-ranging guidance within Cleveland’s emerging medical community.

"I'm proud of what we have accomplished so far," Jackson says. "I hope this is just the beginning."

Posted by: Marvin Kropko, November 29, 2012 08:48 PM | News Topics: