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Posted 04/07/03, by Amanda Weatherman
Path from lab to market grows wider every year
Dartmouth researchers collaborate with private industry to deliver the results of their research to the public, and because of the efforts of the Technology Transfer Office, the number of license agreements each year has steadily grown from 27 in fiscal year 1994 to 79 in fiscal year 2002.
The Technology Transfer Office is chiefly responsible for helping Dartmouth researchers get their inventions from the lab to the market, mostly through applying for U.S. patents, granting licenses to companies, and making other legal arrangements to protect the researchers' work, and the interests of both parties.
The Technology Transfer Office staff also negotiates and monitors privately sponsored research agreements, testing agreements, material transfer agreements, and various other agreements for collaboration with the private sector. The Technology Transfer Office handles approximately 200 such agreements each year.
An example of a recent collaboration between academia and industry is a gel that delivers androgen hormones over time to patients suffering from fibromyalgia. The technology was developed at Dartmouth, in the lab of Hillary White, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. The use of androgens to treat fibromalgia was granted a U.S. patent in 1999. Bentley Pharmaceuticals of North Hampton, N.H., has purchased a license from Dartmouth, and will manufacture and sell the gel, once further studies are completed. The agreement between Dartmouth and Bentley was negotiated by staff members of the Technology Transfer Office.
"Technology Transfer is a kind of bridge that needs to be built between academic and industrial cultures," said Alla Kan, Director of the Technology Transfer Office. "The art of successful transfer is ultimately the ability of both sides to find a mutually beneficial compromise."
Kan cited several examples of the interests of academics and industrialists that often conflict. At a university, the imperative to publish research results, together with the mission to gain and disseminate knowledge often conflicts with private industry's desire to keep research results confidential. The long time frame for research at a university often conflicts with the much shorter time frame in industry.
"In spite of all these differences, both communities need each other," Kan said. "Companies report increased productivity and an improved competitive position as a result of collaborations with university scientists. In many cases it is cheaper for a company to support university investigation and gain access to government-funded basic research, than to set up research-and-development resources in house. Universities receive much-needed support as well as valuable practical experience for students as a result of industrial collaborations."
She said her office's efforts center on achieving win-win arrangements with industrial partners.
Bentley Pharmaceuticals' vice president, Bob Gyurik, concurred: "Our collaboration with Dartmouth scientists and Doctor White in particular was extremely pleasant, productive and successful."
- Amanda Weatherman
Dartmouth License Agreements FY94 to FY02
From fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 2002, Dartmouth's license agreements have increased from 27 to 79. Source: Technology Transfer Office
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