Meet the Team: Dr. Colleen Cassidy

Colleen Cassidy, PhD, is a Project and Technology Commercialization Manager at the Innovation Institute, part of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Pitt. In her role, she manages the commercialization alliances between Pitt and UPMC Enterprises, including the PHDA. She works closely with stakeholders at both organizations to support sponsored project development, execution, and as PHDA projects near completion, the transition into the next phase of research or towards commercialization.

Colleen CassidyWhat led you to the PHDA?

During my time as a postdoc, I realized that while I loved the hypothesis-driven, collaborative nature of academia, I wanted to be more involved in translating scientific discoveries into solutions for patients. For the last several years, I have been working at the interface of academic research and commercialization building a life sciences accelerator program and supporting early-stage startups. When the opportunity came up to work at Pitt’s Innovation Institute, I knew it would be a unique chance to foster directed translation through an unparalleled partnership between two organizations that are leaders in academic research and healthcare innovation.

Where are you originally from?

I am originally from Metamora, Illinois but spent most of my life in Wyoming. Go Pokes! I moved to Pittsburgh in 2016 for a postdoc within Pitt’s Center for Pain Research and immediately fell in love with the city and life sciences community.

Where did your career begin? What did you do? What were the most important lessons you learned there?

Two of the most important lessons I learned in my graduate training and in my career are that it is okay to not know everything and that it is okay to ask for help. No one becomes an expert overnight. We gain knowledge and experience over time. To have a meaningful impact in a field or an organization, it is important to keep asking questions and pursuing opportunities to learn.

What trends are you most excited about today in data and healthcare? Why?

I am most excited to see healthcare data analytics uncover solutions for pervasive, disruptive health problems, including treatment-resistant depression and chronic pain. Researchers and clinicians have unprecedented access to individual and population genetic, omics, and EHR data, which, through thoughtful analysis, will hopefully reveal new avenues for research and lead to the development of effective therapies.