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UCLA Magazine Fall 2003
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Fall 2003
Idea factory
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Parhami is one of nearly 2,400 faculty researchers at UCLA devoted to finding solutions to some of life’s most perplexing problems. Supported by grants totaling $785.9 million in Fiscal Year 2002-’03 — including $564.4 million from state and federal sources, $99.6 million from private corporate and foundation grants and $121.8 million from other sources — they have earned UCLA unquestionable status as one of the world’s premier research universities.

Their contribution of a continuous stream of ideas and inventions also is helping to make the university a key player in business and industry. Patented technology from UCLA has been licensed by hundreds of companies such as Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Novartis and Boston Scientific. UCLA research has also provided the basis for start-up companies that create jobs and fuel the economy. The biopharmaceutical company Agensys, Inc., founded in 1997 (as UroGenesys) by UCLA oncologists and cancer researchers Arie Belldegrun, Owen Witte, Robert Figlin and Jean deKernion, develops novel diagnostic and therapeutic products for prostate cancer. Another company, Pro-Duct Health, was founded by UCLA surgeon Susan Love M.B.A. ’98 based on the ductal lavage catheter she developed for early detection of breast cancer; Pro-Duct was recently purchased by Cytyc Corporation for $167 million.

While technology transfer between academia and business has a long history at the University of California, UCLA in 1990 became the first campus in the UC system to establish a technology-transfer program of its own. Interest quickly exceeded staffing and other resources, however, and UCLA found itself lagging behind other top universities in moving creative ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

“We lost opportunities to leverage many of the exciting ideas coming from our campus,” says Chancellor Albert Carnesale. “This reinforced a culture that did not encourage our faculty to be entrepreneurs.”

Determined to rectify this, Carnesale directed a major reorganization of the Office of Intellectual Property Administration (OIPA) under the leadership of Executive Director Andrew Neighbour.

“The assets and opportunities are here,” says Neighbour, “and particularly the need to serve our faculty is here. Those who wish to commercialize technology deserve to get value-added assistance from the technology-transfer program.”

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