Meet the Team: Dr. Julie Cramer

Julie Cramer, PhD, is a Technology Commercialization Associate at the Innovation Institute, University of Pittsburgh. Her role is to support commercialization alliances between Pitt and UPMC, as well as evaluate technologies for suitability in these collaborations, which includes the PHDA. Dr. Cramer works closely with both the Pitt key stakeholders, (Office of Sponsored Programs, Sponsored Projects Accounting, Academic Departments, Purchasing, sciVelo, etc.) as well as the multidisciplinary teams at UPMC, to ensure all facets of a project are aligned before it can begin. For PHDA projects, which are geared for commercialization, intellectual property is an important piece. When a project first starts, the IP is often in its infancy, but through the life cycle of the PHDA project, the technology transforms into adulthood, better positioned for commercialization. The management of Pitt’s IP, as well as the many agreements that govern the collaborative relationship between Pitt and UPMC, all flow through the Innovation Institute.

Julie CramerWhat led you to the PHDA?

I have fallen in love with the life cycle of technology – more specifically in the life sciences. After earning my PhD, I joined a startup company that had licensed a technology from the University of Pittsburgh, where I performed business and technology development for a cancer diagnostic tool. I then moved on to a role at Pitt-sciVelo, acting as project lead for the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data (CCA) as well as Program Manager in Immunotherapy. It was there that I learned of the PHDA. When the opportunity arose to join Pitt’s Innovation Institute full-time (yet remain intimately involved in the Pitt-UPMC relationship) I took it.

If you moved to Pittsburgh, why?

I came to Pitt to earn my PhD in Pathology, with a focus on intestinal stem cells and colon cancer stem cells. Due to a personal loss at the hands of cancer, I wanted to expand my skillset from medical mycology to cancer biology. That move was the first of many to bring my career closer to a place of relevancy in the field of science, as it relates to the human condition.

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

The pivotal moment in my career was during my time earning a Master of Science degree at Youngstown State University (where the focus was medical mycology). I was strongly encouraged (read: forced) into giving an oral presentation at a conference we were hosting. For the then very timid and introverted young woman, that was a tall order. However, it was also the moment in which I learned the importance of communication in science (and everywhere). Since then, I have enjoyed every opportunity I have been offered to communicate science and the importance and challenges of translating it to a product with clinical impact.

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

We all know that prevention and early detection of disease are key to improving outcomes. Therefore, I am most excited to see data from electronic medical records and precision medicine efforts combine to create more powerful tools to guide patient care. This puts power in the hands of both physicians and patients, to truly move away from the “one-size-fits-all” approach of healthcare.

What’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

Much like Kathrin Gassei, Senior Program Manager at the CCA, I love to bake. Pies, sweet breads, and peach cobbler – just to name a few. My mom taught me to bake and her mom taught her. Food has a way of transporting you to a specific place or time, especially when you are using family recipes. My mom once sent me my grandmother’s recipe for pumpkin pie. It had handwritten notes along the sides, but it turned out perfect, just the way I remember!