January 20, 2004

Commercialized research cracks Top 10

By Kathi Baker

Emory was listed in the Top 10 among U.S. universities in the most recent Asso-ciation of University Technology Managers (AUTM) annual survey of earnings from the commercialization of research inventions.

Ranked No. 10, Emory collected $29.6 million in the survey year (fiscal year 2002). Most of the licensing revenues came through three licensing arrangements for antiviral technology. Top-ranked Columbia University earned $155.7 million.

Also in FY02, Emory reported 28 new licenses and options executed, four new start-up companies, 88 new U.S. patent applications filed, and 25 U.S. patents issued. In 2001, Emory reported licensing revenues of approximately $3.6 million.

The goal of Emory’s technology transfer program is to bring the results of biomedical research more rapidly to patients by bringing discoveries to the marketplace, as well as to contribute additional sources of revenue for support of continued research. Research partnerships with industry also can contribute knowledge, equipment and technology that might not be available to individual academic researchers.

“Not too many years ago, universities were almost ashamed to see the results of their scholarly work become commercialized,” said President Jim Wagner. “Now we understand commercialization as another important way that we can have a positive impact on society.”

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) recently released new roadmap for the future cites expanded research relationships among academia, industry and government as a necessary component for translating laboratory discoveries into usable therapies and technologies.

“The future of technology transfer at Emory holds great opportunity for the faculty, for the institution, and for our patients,” said Frank Stout, vice president for research. “We are beginning to see that the support from the Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Fund, the University Research Fund, the NIH, and our other sponsors produces not only great science and scholarship, but also beneficial products.”

Emory’s program in research commercialization only promises to gain strength with the recent appointment of Todd Sherer as director of technology transfer. Sherer was formerly director of technology and research collaborations at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore.

“The significance of licensing revenue is twofold,” Sherer said. “Not only is substantial revenue being generated to support research and education at
Emory, but, more importantly, product sales mean that patients are being treated because of our patented technology.”

Sherer received his bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in 1985 and his doctorate from Washington State University in 1991 in pharmacology and toxicology. Before joining Oregon Health & Science University, he was associate director of the Office of Intellectual Property Administration at Washington State, then director of the Office of Technology Transfer at the University of Oregon.