Honoring Black History Month
To me, Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the intellectual and societal contributions of Black Americans and African Americans to our wonderful country, from those who may have been marginalized and disdained, or even admired and cherished.
– Ike Chinyere, Ph.D.
Ike Chinyere, Ph.D., started working with Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) when he was an MD-PhD candidate at the UArizona College of Medicine-Tucson focusing on cardiac electrophysiology. The UArizona office that commercializes inventions stemming from research hired him as one of four Entrepreneurial Fellows, a program designed to engage students in the entrepreneurial process and link them with UArizona startup projects under the guidance of TLA’s Mentors-in-Residence.
At the time in 2019, he said his educational goal was “to care for patients in the community and also utilize my Ph.D. to perform groundbreaking research and bring new treatments to patients.”
Apart from a deep desire to advance medical research and practice within his field, Chinyere shares a passion for research commercialization that resonates with the TLA vision.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Ike.
TLA: Why did you make the decision to engage with TLA as an Entrepreneurial Fellow?
IKE: I sought this Fellow role out of curiosity. During my honors undergraduate studies, I was exposed to TLA through the Sarver Heart Center research labs of Drs. Steven Goldman and Elizabeth Juneman, and was fortunate to be named on my first provisional patent application. While in graduate school, I participated in Emre Toker's course series "Entrepreneurship for Biomedicine" and it was he who recommended the role to me.
TLA: What was your experience like as an Entrepreneurial Fellow?
IKE: Let me start by saying I am privileged to work in TLA as an Entrepreneurial Fellow and my experience has been undoubtedly positive. TLA is full of top-rate, hardworking professionals that I learn from with every interaction.
At times, it seems to me that some individuals find me perplexing at first. Perhaps partly because I look different than most other students/researchers/entrepreneurs in this space. Or perhaps partly because of my unique professional training program, making them unsure what I can contribute. Regardless, in every opportunity I have had to work with a university-based startup company, I have done my best to be insightful and useful to the goals at hand. Overall, my experience has been undoubtedly outstanding.
TLA: What words of encouragement might you have for other health sciences students about entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial path?
IKE: I would encourage any student, health science or otherwise, committed to making an impact to consider this fellow position in TLA, or other educational opportunities to gain exposure and experience in entrepreneurship. Our world is full of innovations that challenge the status quo, and remarkable opportunities to contribute are abundant if you are willing to wisely invest your time and energy.
TLA: Considering your experiences growing up, were themes like science, innovation, and entrepreneurship part of your family’s discourse, or are you blazing a new path?
IKE: Thankfully I can say I had a great childhood, though I admit that it was at times underwhelming. With both of my parents in the medical field, I was always curious about science. However, I didn’t know much beyond the grade school textbook version of science. I would sometimes watch Shark Tank on television and remember thinking that the products/services were engaging, but I didn’t have a chance to forge my own path until I came to the University of Arizona.
TLA: What’s next for you career-wise?
IKE: I’m honored to now be Dr. Chinyere and will resume my medical education to eventually be trained as a cardiologist. For me personally, the concept of entrepreneurship is not distinct from my research training or medical training but rather an additional lens by which to evaluate opportunities.
I’m grateful to have been given opportunities to work as a consultant for multiple Tucson-based technology companies in need of medical science perspective, and I aim to continue developing my entrepreneurial portfolio, having a hand in developing new, impactful technologies and getting them out into the world.