Tech Tonics: From Farm to Negotiating Table – James Dromey of the Murdoch Royal Children’s Institute


Manage episode 231799606 series 29991
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Dr. James Dromey was supposed to be a farmer in County Cork, Ireland and has the milking experience to prove it. But apparently cows were not his destiny, even though he was a farm family’s only son. Instead, James left the farm for the teeming metropolis of Galway and never looked back. Today he is a London-educated Irishman who is married to a Belgian and lives Melbourne, where he is a local and national leader in pediatric medical research and digital health innovation.

Though he didn’t have a highly focused plan and claims to be a “take it as it comes” kind of person, James was drawn to science because he happened to have a great teacher who brought the field to life. He found his way to immunology and specifically to a post-doctoral focus on T-Cells in Type 1 diabetics, during which he learned first hand about the challenges of translating the world of the lab to clinical practice. James’ journey took him from Ireland to London and then on to Australia.

Because James also had a strong interest in business, he ultimately found his way to the world of biotech, getting a taste of the challenging world of building a commercial stage company in Australia, where the market is often too small and the funding too challenging to keep companies in country. But a lucky break led to a new role in tech transfer at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research and that led James to what he may well have been born to do, considering that professional basketball wasn’t in the cards (James is a sport fanatic and notably an avid Golden State Warriors fan – clearly proving he has good taste). James found his niche playing a role in others’ discoveries and helping them find a commercial home, which provided a combination of exposure to science and business in a way that scratched both of those itches in a highly satisfying way.

By 2012 James had been recruited to lead tech transfter at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, the largest child health research institute in Australia and one of the top three worldwide. This ultimately led to his being named COO of MCRI, where he is now heading a team of 135 people dedicated to bringing the best of research, digital health innovation and next generation services to pediatric patients at the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital and around the world.

In this terrific Tech Tonics exchange, James talks about his path from the cow fields to MCRI, the challenges of innovating within a hospital, different ways of defining impact, and the key differences between being an innovator in Australia vs. the U.S. We were thrilled to have our mate, James, on the show.

We are grateful to GE Ventures for their sponsorship today. GE Ventures – Multiple Paths to Big Impact.

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