Weekly Features


Kelley School of Business MBA students offer business insights to IU School of Medicine

Feb. 7, 2013

Science and business minds from the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis and IU School of Medicine recently worked together to solve supply chain issues for the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine and IU Vector Production Facility.

This is the fourth year that IU Kelley School of Business MAB students have provided consultation to programs and labs at the IU School of Medicine through a program founded by the Indiana Clinical and Transitional Sciences Institute.

Evening MBA students

Mohan Tatikonda, DBA, MBA, professor of operations management and research co-director of the Center for the Business of Life Sciences at the IU Kelley School of Business; MBA students Stephen Hollander and Nathan Clark; David Flockhart, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine and Harry and Edith Gladstein Chair in Cancer Genomics at the IU School of Medicine; and MBA student Ji Sook Lee.

“Translational science requires not just scientific know-how but also a keen business sense to move new ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace,” said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana CTSI and associate dean for translational research and Raymond Houk Professor of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine. “We’re grateful to the Kelley School for the opportunity to benefit from their students’ expertise, while also giving us the chance to help advance education in the business of life science.”

Evening MBA students from the Global Supply Chain Enterprise, or gSCIE, are chosen to participate in the program through a competitive selection process. Students contribute 100 hours each over the course of a semester in one-on-one client interactions, observing client operations, collecting and analyzing data and making recommendations.

“These projects are truly win-win. For our students they provide exceptional opportunities for up-close engagement in improving patient care and clinical research processes. And the medical community clients find great value from the consulting team’s operational improvements, supply chain maps, competitor analyses and growth recommendations,” said Mohan Tatikonda, DBA, MBA, Dr. L.L. Waters Fellow, professor of operations management, who leads the program for the Kelley School of Business at the IU Kelley School of Business. “Students provide grounded, actionable ideas on how to increase efficiency and effectiveness.”

Dr. Tatikonda, research co-director of the Center for the Business of Life Sciences, also serves as an integral team member, providing 40-80 hours of consultation and guidance to each client and team.

Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine

Working with the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine, Kelley School of Business Evening MBA students examined how to improve the workflow for a potential new service line called the Personalized Medicine Clinic, which works to bridge the gap between genomics research and patient care. Global Supply Chain Enterprise students Stephen Hollander, Ji Sook Lee and Nathan Clark presented their recommendations to key stakeholders at Personalized Medicine Clinic.

“It’s actually handling a real industry problem where there’s no defined constraints,” said Hollander, who is a lead project manager at Rolls Royce. “The problem is sometimes ambiguous and you have to clearly define your goals and objectives. That’s something this team put a lot of effort into early on.”

The gSCIE team provided detailed process mapping and capacity analysis of the laboratories; mapping of information flows between patient clinics, laboratories and other sites in the supply chain and a cost simulation model, all offering a business take on a medical facility challenge.

“The laboratory ultimately will generate massive amounts of genetic data with value beyond just one patient,” Dr. Tatikonda said. “The team offered ideas on how to cope with the technological challenges around big data and blood banks.”

Personalized Medicine Clinic stakeholders were impressed with the workflow proposals.

“Amazing,” said David Flockhart, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine, associate director of the Indiana CTSI and the Harry and Edith Gladstein Chair in Cancer Genomics at the IU School of Medicine. “This was a really complex, difficult, deep-end kind of project. To make something really concrete out of it was a real challenge, but they did a great job.”

“Their background and training helped us take this idea into a phase where we’re ready to implement,” said Christine McDonald, PMC business manager. “They provided a framework for our discussions and asked pointed questions that helped drive decision-making.”

“It was essentially a third job,” said Lee, a billing process manager at Covance Inc. “As a full-time employee, a part-time MBA student and a Personalized Medicine Center team member, being able to efficiently manage time became an indispensable skill. In addition, the gSCIE environment taught me how to more effectively work with people with diverse backgrounds and expertise to accomplish the project’s goals, something that I don’t think you can learn from the classroom alone.”

“They are teaching us as much as we are teaching them,” Dr. Flockhart said.

Vector Production Facility

Controlling cost is important in an FDA-regulated environment. That’s why leaders at the IU Vector Production Facility recently collaborated on a cost-consulting project with Kelley’s gSCIE students.

“We run a facility that makes products that will eventually go into patients, which has to be done under FDA regulations in a clean-room environment,” said Kenneth Cornetta, Ph.D., the director of the Indiana CTSI Access Technology Program and professor and chair medical and molecular genetics at the IU School of Medicine. “The cost of maintaining a clean room is extremely expensive. The personnel cost in both maintenance and production of this material is substantial. Costing becomes really important.”

To help the IU vector production facility evaluate its costing, then-MBA students Patrick Doumas, Kyle McClurg and Aaron Boeke consulted on a gSCIE project to develop a sophisticated cost-analysis tool.

“It was a really good opportunity to see how private-sector best practices can be applied in a not-for-profit lab environment,” said McClurg, strategic sourcing analyst for the Indiana Department of Administration. “It’s something that’s not been investigated too much on the academic side of things, but it’s fun to see how certain things fit.”

In addition to solving a real-business issue using their supply chain studies, the gSCIE students, who have since graduated with their MBAs, also got a glimpse into the business of genetics.

“Just getting into the costing aspect of everything really helped prepare us to do more consulting projects where you’d be put into an unfamiliar situation,” said Doumas (MBA ’12), senior retirement account executive at American Funds. “It was really helpful to hone those consulting skills before I set off for post-MBA work.”

“The project allowed us to meet with professionals who have specific needs but lack some of the business acumen, though they more than make up for it with the scientific expertise,” said Boeke, construction supervisor at DB Klain Builders, LLC. “We helped them focus on a business concern while gaining an opportunity to get our hands dirty.”

Leaders at the IU Vector Production Facility are grateful for the business perspectives provided through the gSCIE projects, which are already making an impact.

“The medical school is interested in looking at this tool to help all of the recharge centers better understand their costing,” said Reeves, a manager of the Indiana CTSI Access Technology Program and associate director of the Vector Production Facility. “It’s a real tool; this is a real product.”

Read more Featured stories »