Technology Transfer Center to Assume Patenting and Licensing Responsibilities

By Michele Newton, Contributing Writer, and Karen Surabian, Guest Writer
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The NCI Technology Transfer Center (TTC) is undergoing a reorganization that will bring patenting and licensing responsibilities to the Shady Grove and Frederick offices by October 2015.

The reorganization is a result of an effort begun in 2014 by NIH to improve the organizational structure of technology transfer at NIH to meet the rapid rate of change within science, technology, and industry, and to better align the science and laboratory goals with the licensing and patenting process.

The new structure will decentralize patenting and licensing functions currently at the NIH Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) into nine NIH institutes, including NCI. “Decentralizing patenting and licensing, and integrating these functions into the technology transfer centers, should help align NIH technology transfer expertise with the science and the mission of the institutes and centers that generate the research materials and innovations,” said Tom Stackhouse, Ph.D., TTC associate director.

Preparations for the Reorganization Have Already Begun
In anticipation of the October reorganization, several changes are already taking place. For example, in April, the technology dockets, or case assignments, of the licensing and patenting managers (LPMs) from NIH OTT were changed so that the LPMs can begin transitioning to work with the inventions made by the institute to which they will be reassigned.  LPMs are currently wrapping up ongoing negotiations on their former dockets and briefing the colleagues who are taking over the cases, in order to provide a smooth transition.

The reorganization will provide NCI at Frederick scientists with some new and dedicated resources in the TTC Frederick office.  Two LPMs from the NIH OTT will join the TTC Frederick office in October 2015. Cross-training will take place so that the LPMs will learn how to negotiate an array of agreements, such as Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and Confidential Disclosure Agreements, and current TTC technology transfer specialists in the Frederick office will be trained in patenting and licensing processing and regulations.

“While there will be a significant learning curve for everyone involved, this is a very exciting time for TTC and its internal and external partners,” Stackhouse said. “Ultimately, when labs engage with TTC, they will have a dedicated technology transfer professional (or a dedicated team for larger labs) to manage all aspects of technology transfer on behalf of their lab. We will bring more information to the community in the near future.”

Karen Surabian is a licensing and patenting manager at the NIH Office of Technology Transfer and a former contributing writer from the NCI Technology Transfer Center.