University of Massachusetts Life Sciences Task Force 2013


Robert Caret, PhD, President of the University of Massachusetts, charged Chancellor Michael F. Collins, in his role as Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences for the University System, to lead a five-campus planning process focused on the life sciences during the 2013 – 2014 Academic Year.

There were a number of factors that contributed to the decision to launch a new life sciences strategic planning process, including the following:

  • The University has benefitted from the recent addition of many new leaders, both at the system and campus levels, who were not part of the initial life sciences planning process back in 2008, but have the expertise and experience to provide tremendous value to this new planning process;

  • The current life sciences strategic plan has entered its fifth and final year, necessitating a new plan to address emerging opportunities and challenges;

  • Given that the University, by virtue of the first planning process, has made inroads in promoting a culture of collaboration within the System, now is the time to orient UMass toward external collaborations, especially with industry partners; and

  • The shift toward translational research and the broader external environment, with constrained research funding and other pressures, is encouraging more robust external partnerships and innovative thinking.

To facilitate the planning process, Chancellor Collins reconstituted the UMass Life Sciences Task Force (LSTF), which served as the essential structure for the development of the University’s inaugural system-wide life sciences strategic plan back in 2008. The LSTF is comprised of a rich and diverse group of colleagues from across the UMass System representing the full breadth and depth of the institution’s mission-related activities. 

The LSTF has organized its efforts into six working groups, which are focused on the following thematic areas: 1) Talent; 2) External Support and Engagement; 3) Discovery Research; 4) Research Across the Translational Spectrum; 5) Inter-campus Collaboration; and 6) Industry Engagement and Entrepreneurship.

Each of the working groups has been asked to complete a situational analysis of its specific thematic area, draft a vision statement, develop a series of strategic questions, solicit perspectives and feedback from key constituencies, and ultimately, offer a set of content-specific recommendations for the LSTF’s consideration.

Emanating from the efforts of the working groups will be a number of broad and cross-cutting themes that, in turn, will serve as the basis for those recommendations to be included in the LSTF’s final draft.

It is expected that the LSTF planning process will be concluded by the end of Academic Year 2013 – 2014.