TAG: "Tech transfer"

Calico licenses technology from UCSF laboratory

Project seeks to develop potential therapies for cognitive decline.

Calico, a company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase understanding of the biology that controls human lifespan, and UC San Francisco have partnered on an innovative project to develop potential therapies for cognitive decline.

Under the agreement, Calico will receive an exclusive license to technology discovered in the laboratory of Peter Walter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF. Walter is an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and recipient of the prestigious Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2014.

The agreement is focused on modulators of the integrated stress response (ISR), a set of processes activated in cells under conditions of stress. Under some circumstances, the ISR can be deleterious. For example, under certain circumstances the ISR may contribute to memory decline, a significant problem potentially addressed by the licensed technology.

“We are delighted to enter into this agreement with UCSF and we are excited to translate these research findings into potential treatments for age-related cognitive disorders,” commented Hal Barron, Calico’s president of research and development. “Peter is a world-class basic scientist whose insights have fundamentally changed our understanding of how cells function under stress.”

The work conducted in the Walter laboratory was led by Carmela Sidrauski, a former UCSF researcher and now a scientist at Calico.

“Calico will be a great partner to explore the promise of our research,” Walter said. “Their commitment includes conducting key additional research, hiring outstanding investigators like Carmela and providing critical development expertise.”

Under the terms of the agreement, UCSF will receive an undisclosed up-front fee, and potential milestone and royalty payments. Calico will take responsibility for further research, development and commercialization of resulting therapeutics.

This partnership was facilitated by the UCSF Office of Innovation, Technology & Alliances (ITA), which coordinates UCSF’s efforts in forging collaborations and licensing technologies that translate cutting-edge science on campus into therapies and products that directly benefit patients worldwide.

Calico (Calico Life Sciences LLC) is a Google-founded research and development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan. Calico will use that knowledge to devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.

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UC inventions on display at Tech Commercialization Forum

Breakthrough technologies creating public benefit, improving health.

A system for removing arsenic from groundwater, developed at Berkeley Lab, is helping to provide safe drinking water for people in India and Bangladesh.

By Carolyn McMillan

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory scientist Ashok Gadgil has developed an inexpensive and easily maintained system for removing arsenic from groundwater.

It’s a breakthrough technology that could protect millions of people around the world from arsenic poisoning, a silent killer that is especially prevalent in the rural villages of India and Bangladesh.

Across the bay, a UC San Francisco orthopedic surgeon has tackled a different sort of epidemic — the thousands of young athletes who tear knee ligaments every year while playing soccer.

Dr. Jeffrey Lotz has developed a faster, better and cheaper way to assess whether an athlete is at risk for lower extremity injuries. His 3-D movement analysis system lets physical therapists and trainers assess an athlete’s body mechanics in order to prescribe the right exercises to avoid injury.

The products of research

These two innovations are just a fraction of the commercially viable discoveries and inventions to emerge recently from the University of California — and part of what makes UC such a powerhouse of economic growth for the state.

UC researchers reported more than 1,700 new inventions last year, according to the recently released Technology Commercialization Report. UC inventions led to 71 new start-up companies and produced roughly $106 million royalty and fee income for the university.

UC President Janet Napolitano, speaking at the university’s annual Technology Commercialization Forum on May 8, said that UC is committed to doing even more to help faculty, researchers and students bring their discoveries to the marketplace.

“Steering UC’s cutting-edge discoveries through our labs and into the world economy is central to our mission as a public university,” Napolitano said. “We are committed to supporting our faculty and students with a strong, nimble infrastructure that will help them pursue patents and develop start-up companies, and we will continue to develop partnerships with industry and investors.”

Gadgil and Lotz were among 20 UC inventors to showcase their innovative research at the forum. The work spanned a huge array of fields and came from eight UC campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Improving life and environment

At UC San Diego, a clinical trial is under way to test an oxygen delivery system for people with chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD), a respiratory ailment. The system automatically responds in real time to a patient’s changing oxygen needs, delivering the right amount of oxygen with each breath.

“Our goal is to increase the autonomy and mobility for people with COPD,” said Dr. Xaxier Soler, associate director of UC San Diego’s pulmonary rehabilitation program. “We want to extend their quality of life.”

The technology was developed  by  co-inventors Stephen Roberts and David Lischer — the latter a COPD patient who was frustrated that current oxygen devices limited his activity levels. Lischer has tested a prototype of the new device since 2010, and it works well enough that he now goes skiing, Soler said.

At UC Davis, Basam Younis has developed the next generation of water disinfection systems using UV light, rather than chlorine, to eliminate pathogens. Younis’ system achieves a higher level of water purification than earlier UV systems — and does it at a lower cost.

Better yet: His system has proven to be particularly effective at eliminating what Younis referred to as “emerging contaminants” — things like pharmaceuticals, flame retardants, human hormones and care products — which increasingly are found in water supplies.

Public benefit

Steven Beckwith, UC’s vice president for research and graduate studies, said that the breadth and depth of innovation is a reflection that UC has created an “ecosystem of discovery” across its campuses and labs.

“This is the largest, and without a doubt, the most prestigious university in the world,” Beckwith said. “Our researchers tackle complex issues and look to answer some of the biggest questions that society has. And ultimately, we are looking to create a benefit for the public.”

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Corporate-funded academic inventions spur increased innovation, analysis says

Findings based upon a study of two decades of records from the UC system.

Academic research sponsored by industry has a strong track record of leading to innovative patents and licenses, challenging assumptions that corporate support skews science toward inventions that are less accessible and less useful to others than those funded by the government or nonprofit organizations, according to a new analysis.

The findings, published today (March 19) in a commentary in the journal Nature, are based upon a study of two decades of records from the University of California system.

The authors, led by Brian Wright, UC Berkeley professor of agricultural and resource economics, analyzed 12,516 inventions and related licenses at nine UC campuses and three associated national laboratories. The inventions were disclosed between 1990 and 2005, and licensing activity was analyzed through 2010. Of the inventions, nearly 1,500 were supported at least partly by private industry. (UC Merced, the 10th UC campus, was not included because it opened in 2005.)

The analysis found that industry-funded inventions yielded patents and licenses more frequently than federally sponsored ones, with results consistent across technical fields. The researchers also found that industry-sponsored inventions were more highly cited in subsequent patent applications — known as “forward citations” — the most widely used marker of a patent’s quality and importance. Each corporate-sponsored invention generated an average of 12.8 forward citations compared with 5.6 for federally sponsored inventions.

“This runs counter to the expectation that corporate-sponsored inventions have narrow applications, and so create … few benefits for others,” the authors wrote.

Because corporations usually get first crack at negotiating licenses to the inventions they sponsor, there is an assumption that corporations would tie up innovative discoveries in a way that restricts access to a broader audience.

To illustrate those concerns, the authors referenced reactions to a 1998 deal with Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis to support biotechnology research at UC Berkeley, and to a research consortium, the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), funded by energy giant BP and led by UC Berkeley.

In both cases, critics expressed fears that corporate interests would stifle UC Berkeley’s public mission by locking up discoveries for industry profits. (The Novartis project yielded no patents, and EBI began too late to be included in the study.)

However, the intellectual property data analyzed by the authors indicate that industry has not been more likely than federally sponsored research to tie up research discoveries in exclusive licenses. Overall, corporate-funded inventions were licensed exclusively 74 percent of the time, while federally funded inventions were licensed exclusively 76 percent of the time. Notably, among the corporate-funded inventions with exclusive licenses, half seemed to go to third parties and not the sponsor.

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Research leads to affordable technology to fight mosquito-borne diseases

UC Riverside discoveries are foundation for Olfactor Labs to develop easy-to-wear patch.

The Kite Mosquito Patch disburses non-toxic compounds that provide individuals with up to 48 hours of protection from mosquitoes.

The Kite Mosquito Patch disburses non-toxic compounds that provide individuals with up to 48 hours of protection from mosquitoes.

Technology that hampers mosquitoes’ host-seeking behavior, identified at UC Riverside in 2011, has led to the development of the world’s first product that blocks mosquitoes’ ability to efficiently detect carbon dioxide, their primary method of tracking human blood meals.

The initial research was performed in the laboratory of Anandasankar Ray, an associate professor of entomology, and was featured on the cover of the journal Nature. Ray’s lab identified volatile odor molecules that can impair, if not completely disrupt, mosquitoes’ carbon dioxide detection machinery.

The intellectual property was licensed to Olfactor Laboratories Inc., a company that grew around the technology, expanded the research, filed additional patents and developed related technologies that led to the mosquito-warding product.

Called the Kite Mosquito Patch, the product marks a significant advancement in the global fight against mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus and dengue fever. The patch delivers mosquito-repelling compounds in a simple, affordable and scalable sticker that can be used by individuals in regions impacted by malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.

“UCR is committed to strengthening and expanding its ties with industry partners,” said Michael Pazzani, the vice chancellor for research and economic development. “Olfactor Laboratories Inc. is a great example of how UCR innovations result in new industries, which, in turn, lead to the development of products impacting the lives of people around the globe.”

Simple and affordable, Kite is a colorful sticker, small enough to be worn virtually without notice. It disburses the non-toxic compounds that provide individuals with up to 48 hours of protection from mosquitoes. Estimated to cost a fraction of existing repellents, Kite is applied to clothing and can be used by people of all ages, including infants and pregnant mothers.

“I am very excited to see how Olfactor Labs has rapidly taken our initial discovery to a product that can have great value in the war against mosquitoes and disease,” Ray said. “I am most impressed that they have designed something affordable and convenient for use in Africa and around the world. I am rooting for this to become a game changer in lowering instance of malaria, dengue, filariasis and other dangerous diseases.”

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UCSF to host life science tech transfer summit

Event will be July 29-30.

Erik Lium, UC San Francisco

An international conference focusing on life science technology transfer will take place in late July at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus. The 2013 Tech Transfer Summit (TTS), North America will run from July 29 to 30, focusing on early stage tech transfer, licensing, partnering and investment.

The conference is organized by TTS Ltd. and UCSF’s Office of Innovation, Technology & Alliances (ITA), which oversees technology transfers, entrepreneurship and innovative research alliances with bioscience commercial, nonprofit and government organizations. ITA is serving as the host partner, and BayBio and QB3 are also providing support for the event, whose speakers and attendees include a broad range of stakeholders in the life sciences and health care industries.

“UCSF is pleased to host the Tech Transfer Summit as part of our commitment to partnering with industry, government, private nonprofit and peer organizations to advance health worldwide, directly benefiting patients,” said ITA Assistant Vice Chancellor Erik Lium, Ph.D. Lium pointed to UCSF’s newly created Center for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI) as an example of the university’s focus on leading revolutions in health.

Early bird registration discounts are available through June 30. Registration and fee information is available at techtransfersummit.com/northamerica2013/registration. For more information, email terry.graham@ucsf.edu.



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UC Santa Cruz grad students launch cancer genomics company

Five3 Genomics offers genomics software and services for personalized cancer therapy.

The co-founders of Five3 Genomics are (from left) Charles Vaske, Steven Benz, and Zachary Sanborn, all former graduate students in the UC Santa Cruz Baskin School of Engineering.

The co-founders of Five3 Genomics, a new biotech company based in Santa Cruz, are former graduate students in the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, where they helped develop innovative cancer genomics software.

Their company, which has signed a license agreement with UCSC, offers software and services for cancer researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and health care organizations. Its goal is to provide the data processing and analysis required for personalized cancer therapy, in which treatments are matched to the specific genetic aberrations found in an individual patient’s cancer cells.

“We’re working with academic collaborators to build out the platform and starting conversations with pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies,” said CEO Steve Benz, who completed his Ph.D. in bioinformatics this year. “It’s a great opportunity to be able to take this technology and commercialize it so that it can be used to help patients.”

In addition to Benz, the co-founders of Five3 Genomics include Chief Technical Officer Zachary Sanborn and Chief Scientific Officer Charles Vaske. All three of them worked as graduate students with UC Santa Cruz bioinformatics experts David Haussler and Joshua Stuart, who are doing pioneering work in the field of cancer genomics. Haussler, a professor of biomolecular engineering and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, said that Benz, Sanborn, and Vaske were “brilliant grad students.”

“Working at UCSC they were exposed to the cutting edge in computational genomics,” Haussler said. “They played a key role in developing our cancer genomics program. They are pure self-starters, and developed the code to implement their ideas from the bottom up. The algorithms they developed represented new breakthroughs in our ability to interpret DNA sequence information obtained from cancer tumors. This area is poised to move from the academic realm into the clinical realm in the next few years. By spinning off a startup company, they have put themselves in an excellent position to play a key role in this transformation.”

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Targeting tooth decay

New mouthwash targeting harmful bacteria may render tooth decay a thing of the past.

Wenyuan Shi, UCLA

A new mouthwash developed by a microbiologist at the UCLA School of Dentistry is highly successful in targeting the harmful Streptococcus mutans bacteria that is the principal cause tooth decay and cavities.

In a recent clinical study, 12 subjects who rinsed just one time with the experimental mouthwash experienced a nearly complete elimination of the S. mutans bacteria over the entire four-day testing period. The findings from the small-scale study are published in the current edition of the international dental journal Caries Research.

Dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay or cavities, is one of the most common and costly infectious diseases in the United States, affecting more than 50 percent of children and the vast majority of adults aged 18 and older. Americans spend more than $70 billion each year on dental services, with the majority of that amount going toward the treatment of dental caries.

This new mouthwash is the product of nearly a decade of research conducted by Wenyuan Shi, chair of the oral biology section at the UCLA School of Dentistry. Shi developed a new antimicrobial technology called STAMP (specifically targeted anti-microbial peptides) with support from Colgate-Palmolive and from C3-Jian Inc., a company he founded around patent rights he developed at UCLA; the patents were exclusively licensed by UCLA to C3-Jian. The mouthwash uses a STAMP known as C16G2.

The human body is home to millions of different bacteria, some of which cause diseases such as dental caries but many of which are vital for optimum health. Most common broad-spectrum antibiotics, like conventional mouthwash, indiscriminately kill both benign and harmful pathogenic organisms and only do so for a 12-hour time period.

The overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics can seriously disrupt the body’s normal ecological balance, rendering humans more susceptible to bacterial, yeast and parasitic infections.

Shi’s Sm STAMP C16G2 investigational drug, tested in the clinical study, acts as a sort of “smart bomb,” eliminating only the harmful bacteria and remaining effective for an extended period.

Based on the success of this limited clinical trial, C3-Jian Inc. has filed a New Investigational Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to begin more extensive clinical trials in March 2012. If the FDA ultimately approves Sm STAMP C16G2 for general use, it will be the first such anti–dental caries drug since fluoride was licensed nearly 60 years ago.

“With this new antimicrobial technology, we have the prospect of actually wiping out tooth decay in our lifetime,” said Shi, who noted that this work may lay the foundation for developing additional target-specific “smart bomb” antimicrobials to combat other diseases.

“The work conducted by Dr. Shi’s laboratory will help transform the concept of targeted antimicrobial therapy into a reality,” said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry. “We are proud that UCLA will become known as the birthplace of this significant treatment innovation.”

The UCLA School of Dentistry is dedicated to improving the oral health of the people of California, the nation and the world through its teaching, research, patient care and public service initiatives. The school provides education and training programs that develop leaders in dental education, research, the profession and the community; conducts research programs that generate new knowledge, promote oral health and investigate the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral disease in an individualized disease-prevention and management model; and delivers patient-centered oral health care to the community and the state.

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QB3 signs agreement to accelerate innovation

Partnership with Johnson & Johnson will fund proof-of-concept research that brings innovative science to market.

Regis Kelly

The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) has signed an agreement with the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology (COSAT) to fund University of California proof-of-concept research that brings innovative science to market.

This agreement, along with the Rogers Family Foundation of Oakland, helps fund QB3’s “Bridging-the-Gap” program, initiated in 2008 to support scientific projects that have high commercial potential led by faculty at UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. These awards are intended to address the critical gap between federal funding for basic research and investments in product development. Each award typically provides $250,000 over two years for research.

Former award-winning projects include a prototype of an artificial kidney developed by Shuvo Roy, UCSF professor of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences, and an automated technique to improve prostate cancer screening, invented by Amy Herr, UC Berkeley associate professor of bioengineering.

The agreement establishes the JJSI-QB3 Awards as a component of the “Bridging-the-Gap” program and calls for annual awards over the next three years. QB3 will provide the awarded projects with services from the QB3 Startup-In-A-Box program, and potentially find space for them in the QB3 incubator.

“This agreement is an innovative academic-industry partnership model specifically focused on startup formation,” said Neena Kadaba, QB3’s director of industry alliances. “These awards are designed to provide a crucial amount of pre-commercial support to help would-be entrepreneurs address potential scientific risks in their technology before launching a company.”

The nine projects funded by QB3’s “Bridging-the-Gap” program to date already have resulted in five new companies and three licenses to existing firms.  The five companies formed in the past two years have raised over $9 million in private and public commercial funding.

”This agreement represents an important initiative for QB3 by providing additional opportunities for innovative researchers at our universities to create companies of value,” said Regis Kelly, director of QB3.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

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UCSF-Pfizer partnership yields projects aimed at clinical trials

Collaboration has resulted in five initial projects for therapies to treat cancer, other maladies.

Jeffrey Bluestone, UC San Francisco

An 11-month-old partnership between UC San Francisco and Pfizer Inc., aimed at rapidly moving new therapies into human clinical trials, has selected its first projects for funding and joint development. Teams from the university and Pfizer will work together on experimental therapies developed by UCSF scientists with a goal of testing them in people with five hard-to-treat, often deadly conditions, including lung and prostate cancer.

Three to five additional projects from university researchers will be selected after a second round of proposals, due Nov. 4, are evaluated. Details on the proposal process and how to submit the initial two- to three-page preproposal can be found at http://officeofresearch.ucsf.edu/ITA/CTI, or email ita@ucsf.edu with questions.

As part of the unique collaboration, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, will not only provide funding for the selected researchers, but has set up its own laboratory space next to UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. Scientists at the Pfizer lab, the Center for Therapeutic Innovation, will work directly with each of the UCSF teams.

“At UCSF, we are absolutely focused on finding new ways to turn the groundbreaking research of our scientists into therapies that benefit patients and the public,’’ said Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D., UCSF’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “Our work with Pfizer epitomizes our approach to building innovative, collaborative partnerships with industry.”

The Pfizer and UCSF researchers can visit each other’s labs, conduct experiments together and participate in joint team meetings, said Stephanie Robertson, Ph.D., who oversees the collaboration for the UCSF Office of Innovation, Technologies & Alliances with colleague Tuhin Sinha, Ph.D., alliance manager of the ITA.

“The proximity is key,” Robertson said. “People can literally walk across the street. That was a big reason for Pfizer locating right here.’’

As the cost of developing new drugs has skyrocketed — reaching $1.8 billion per approved drug, according to some recent research — drug companies have been searching for ways to lower the cost. Since they often spend years or months developing testing tools geared to the biology they’re interested in, the UCSF-Pfizer collaboration offers a way to jump-start that process by linking with academic researchers who know the biology and have already developed the tools.

“We are truly excited to work in this partnership with leading experts from UCSF to understand more about the mechanisms that drive diseases with high unmet medical need,” said Anthony Coyle, vice president and head of Pfizer’s Global Centers for Therapeutic Innovation. “By understanding the mechanisms underlying inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular disease and oncology, we can design better molecules to treat the right patients.”

Pfizer will have the right to commercialize the drugs and UCSF will earn milestone payments as the therapies advance through different stages of testing, as well as royalties from sales of approved therapies. This collaborative structure also provides the university the potential for a bigger return than it would normally receive when licensing out an early-stage technology.

“Best of all, it allows the scientists to be involved in turning research they’ve worked on for years into something that could actually be used to treat patients,” Robertson said.

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Lab spinoff receives grant for respiratory disease diagnostic device

Fast, inexpensive, disposable point-of-care technology also planned.

Bruce Cary

A spinoff of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Mesa Tech, has been awarded a $300,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will allow Mesa Tech to develop an inexpensive, instrument-free, nucleic-acid testing device able to diagnose various respiratory diseases in record time.

The managers of Mesa Tech, who are currently developing a prototype, plan to initially target the global diseases surveillance market. They also envision applications in point-of-care diagnostics, particularly in poor areas of the world, said former LANL scientist Hong Cai, who cofounded Mesa Tech and is the principal investigator for the effort benefitting from the grant.

For point-of-care applications, Mesa Tech plans to develop an inexpensive handheld device about the size of a cell phone with a disposable cartridge, Cai said. In the case of a pandemic, such as SARS or avian influenza, the device also could be made disposable, she added.

Mesa Tech’s proposed instrument expands on technology developed by Cai and colleague Bruce Cary while they were researchers at LANL, which licensed the technology to the company. It also builds on previous work conducted by Mesa Tech under an $82,000 grant awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Using that grant, Mesa Tech began developing the consumable portion of the platform, an inexpensive nucleic-acid “dipstick” device capable of detecting and distinguishing multiple flu-like pathogens in under an hour, Cai said, explaining that current methods take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.

Mesa Tech’s research and development was also sped up by a 2009 Venture Acceleration Grant from Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the company that manages and operates LANL for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. The VAF, which awards grants up to $100,000, was started in 2006 to fill a funding gap that slowed the commercialization of technologies by Northern New Mexico companies. Mesa Tech also participated successfully in LANL’s New Mexico Small Business Tech Assistance Program.

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Patents pending

UC Irvine’s licensing officers help campus researchers protect their inventions.

Alvin Viray, UC Irvine

They call it “the baby monitor,” but it’s nothing like the ones sold at Babies “R” Us that alert parents when junior’s crying in his crib.

Developed by UC Irvine pediatrics professor Dr. Dan Cooper, the sophisticated wireless device can detect subtle movements in infants that signal increased risk of cerebral palsy, autism and other neurological disorders. It’s outfitted with a sensor created by Pai Chou, UCI associate professor of electrical engineering & computer science, and it has a special application to warn of sudden infant death syndrome.

The baby monitor and sensor are just two of many important inventions conceived at UCI. The campus holds 316 active U.S. patents and 360 foreign ones for ideas and products that do everything from quieting jet noise (Dimitri Papamoschou’s Mach Wave Elimination) to restoring hearing (Fan-Gang Zeng’s cochlear implants).

And, no matter which lab or department they originate from, all fall under the careful eye of UCI’s Office of Technology Alliances. The OTA handles the patenting and licensing of the campus’s intellectual property. It helps UCI employees – primarily faculty and graduate students – protect and market their ideas.

“We’re the liaison between the lab bench and the marketplace,” says Doug Crawford, senior licensing officer for UCI. “We also create alliances with companies in the private sector so that campus research has the greatest positive impact.”

The OTA’s seven officers meet frequently with investigators to learn about their latest projects. “It’s fun to see all this great new stuff,” Crawford says, “and how excited the researchers are about what they’ve invented and what their creations can do for people.”

He recently began working on a patent for a wastewater treatment devised by Betty H. Olson, civil & environmental engineering professor. “It’s not the most glamorous invention – it’s a kit for sewage,” Crawford says. “It detects bacteria that bloom in the water early, before it grows out of control and becomes a lot more expensive to treat. Her technology saves both energy and water.”

Dr. J. Stuart Nelson developed UCI’s No. 1 revenue-producing invention, the Dynamic Cooling Device, which boasts more than $40 million in royalties. The attachment allows medical lasers to penetrate deep into the skin without burning, substantially reducing pain.

“It’s great,” Crawford says. “They did a test spot on my hand with the cooling device. Then they used the laser without it, and – ow! – that hurt.” Nelson created the product for treating birthmarks and port-wine stains. Now it’s standard in all kinds of laser procedures, such as tattoo removal and wrinkle reduction.

Other leading inventors at UCI include Hans Keirstead, who holds worldwide patents for his work with stem cells and the regeneration of damaged spinal cords; Frank LaFerla, director of UCI’s Institute for Memory Impairments & Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), who has pioneered therapies for cognitive disorders; and Jean-Claude Falmagne, professor emeritus of cognitive sciences and creator of a software program called ALEKS (Assessment & Learning in Knowledge Spaces), which helps children develop learning skills.

While benefiting people by advancing health care, technology and other fields, inventions also benefit the University of California by generating revenue for further research and education.

Intellectual assets belong to UC. Patent income is divided three ways, with UC receiving 50 percent, the inventor pocketing 35 percent, and 15 percent going to the academic department where the idea originated.

All UCI employees must file a record of invention disclosing their creation to the OTA. In 2010-11, the campus had 180 new ROIs. “We review them for patentability and commercial viability,” Crawford says.

Each licensing officer has a different specialty – such as medical devices, microbiology or engineering – to facilitate the complex patent application process. Some have degrees in law or business. “We’re in each other’s offices on a regular basis,” Crawford notes.

His background is in plasma physics. An inventor himself, he holds patents for electrodeless lighting – an alternative to fluorescent bulbs – which he came up with as a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Once OTA enters into negotiations with a company for licensing an invention, the office must tread carefully:

“We don’t want them sitting on it to protect their own [possibly competing] product,” Crawford says. “We make sure they intend to get our invention out to the broadest market.”

In addition, the office assists faculty in launching startup companies to manufacture an invention, as with the HIPerWall.

The OTA continues to manage and protect UCI patents until they expire 20 years from the date of filing – and sometimes beyond if an idea is still commercially viable.

“We’re here from cradle to grave,” Crawford says.

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UCLA continues to lead way for innovation, research in SoCal

In last year, UCLA entered into 65 licensing agreements to commercialize novel technology.

James Economou, UCLA

Buoyed by President Obama’s recent vow to help universities foster innovation that results in new jobs and economic growth, UCLA is building upon its longstanding commitment to transition cutting-edge research into the marketplace.

The latest figures show that UCLA continues to lead the way in Southern California with a steady increase in such projects. In fact, during the 2010–11 academic year, which ended June 30, UCLA entered into 65 licensing agreements to commercialize novel technology, including 24 with small businesses. This so-called “technology transfer” increased by 81 percent over last year and is almost four times greater than it was a decade ago.

Initial counts for the last fiscal year show that 22 startup companies were formed around UCLA technologies.

“Great universities have a responsibility to address important problems with the solutions that come from innovative research,” said UCLA Vice Chancellor for Research James S. Economou. “Delivering those solutions to society by working through the marketplace is a critical part of our mission as well. These innovations often result in startup companies that create jobs — some for our recent graduates — and add to the economic development of Los Angeles, California and the nation.”

There is also a direct benefit to the campus. In 2010–11, UCLA’s licensing activity resulted in more than $20 million in royalty and fee income, which is shared with inventors, their labs and research programs at UCLA. By federal law, research conducted at tax-supported public universities must be managed diligently by the university at which the research was done.

One of the nation’s premier research institutions, UCLA in 1990 became the first UC campus to establish a technology-transfer program. Since then, the university has overseen hundreds of forward-looking technologies as they were developed in campus research labs and found their way into companies throughout the state and nation.

One of those, MediSens, a UCLA startup, is working to introduce a real-time, quantifiable, wireless medical monitoring system to help contain health care industry costs. In close collaboration with the UCLA Wireless Health Institute, MediSens has secured and patented key technologies.

ImaginAB Inc., another UCLA startup, is a biotechnology company specializing in the development of engineered antibody fragments for diagnostic imaging and novel therapeutic applications. The company has a significant pipeline of clinical products in development that are oriented toward unmet needs in cancer and immunology.

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