Maryland Sec. of Commerce Mike Gill focuses on growth of UMBC research during campus visit

Published: Apr 14, 2016

(Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill (left) with UMBC professor Govind Rao (right). Photo by Marlayna Demond '11 for UMBC.)

Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill visited UMBC on April 7, 2016, for an afternoon focused on UMBC research and entrepreneurship.

While at UMBC, Secretary Gill met with President Freeman Hrabowski and UMBC leaders focused on research and technology commercialization, including Ellen Hemmerly, executive director of the bwtech@UMBC Research & Technology Park. He also toured the lab of Govind Rao, director of the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST) and professor of chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering (CBEE).

CAST is known as an international leader in developing revolutionary technologies intended to scale up to impact lives across the globe. One tool currently under development is a portable, briefcase-sized bioreactor that rapidly manufactures medicines, replacing airdrops of pharmaceutical supplies to battlefields with point-of-care technology to manufacture specific drugs as they are needed. Rao’s lab has also developed an affordable incubator for vulnerable newborns in low-resource areas. With co-PI Yodan Kostov, CBEE research professor, and faculty collaborators from the College of Engineering and Information Technology, Rao is also working on a wearable system to track asthma triggers in pediatric patients, supported through a nearly $2 million award from NIH.

“I often say that economic development is a team sport, and an important player on Maryland’s team is UMBC,” says Secretary Gill. “Our higher education institutions foster the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that help drive Maryland’s industry sectors like cyber and life sciences. It was terrific seeing firsthand the great work that UMBC’s researchers and innovators are doing.”

“We were proud to share with Secretary Gill the strong record of our faculty in launching new companies and contributing to the Maryland economy,” says Karl Steiner, vice president for research. “UMBC and bwtech have been partnering successfully for a long time on creating and attracting businesses that match our scientific strengths in cybersecurity, life sciences and environmental technologies.”

Secretary Gill began his service in the Maryland Department of Commerce in January 2015, after four decades as an entrepreneur, tech executive, and investment banker. His work with UMBC extends back over a decade, through his service on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, 2004-2009. Sec. Gill’s team includes Brady Walker ’08, political science, special assistant to the secretary.

Image: Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill, Brady Walker, and  Prof. Govind Rao (left-right). Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

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