UM dean emphasizes technology transferOnly a few days into...

LIFE SCIENCES

September 15, 1992|By Liz Bowie

UM dean emphasizes technology transfer

Only a few days into her new job as dean of the combined University of Maryland graduate schools in Baltimore and Balti- more County, Joann A. Boughman was giving new emphasis to technology transfer -- the fine art of getting faculty research commercialized.

Last week she beefed up the technology transfer office, assigning a full-time person to handle marketing and business communications. In addition, she said several legal interns will work with staff lawyers on patent and licensing issues.

"We are going to focus on being pro-active with the faculty rather than reactive," Dr. Boughman said. "Academics and researchers are not thinking in an entrepreneurial way."

She wants Maria Freire, the current head of the technology transfer office, to have more time to help educate faculty about a process that can sometimes be complicated. "As a biophysicist, she should be serving as an interpreter," Dr. Boughman said of Dr. Freire.

Dr. Freire, she said, has done an outstanding job helping to boost the number of licensing agreements and research dollars, which rose from $35 million to more than $100 million in the past several years. But she has had too few resources, Dr. Boughman said.

Dr. Boughman, an authority on human genetics, is officially the new vice president for research and dean of the University of Maryland graduate school campuses.

She has lived in Baltimore for 10 years and has held a number of faculty positions at the University of Maryland, including professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and preventive medicine the School of Medicine, and director of the graduate program in human genetics.

She hopes to significantly boost the number of research dollars coming into the university by promoting research sponsored by corporations and private sources such as foundations and associations. "The time is ripe for developing appropriate partnerships," she said.

Bioserve Biotechnologies Ltd. became the 13th company to graduate from the University of Maryland's incubator for small businesses last week.

Bioserve, a private company with seven employees, moved out of the College Park facility where it had grown up to a new headquarters in Laurel to continue developing a diagnostic test for lung cancer. Roma Modali, who left the National Cancer Institute three years ago to start the business,said the company hopes to develop a test that could be given to people in high-risk groups -- such as smokers or coal miners -- to see if they have a specific gene that would make them more susceptible to lung cancer.

While a number of other companies are developing diagnostic tests based on genetic engineering, Mr. Modali said he believes his technique is different.

The University of Maryland's incubator, one of four across the state, is designed to give start-up businesses a nurturing and inexpensive first home at the College Park campus. The hope is that after a few years the companies will grow up and leave the nest -- moving into their own facility.

One such biotechnology company, Martek Corp. of Columbia, is expanding rapidly and developing products from microalgae.

When Mr. Modali began Bioserve Biotechnologies, he set up a company that would sell molecular biology services to laboratories across the country. Revenues -- about $300,000 last year -- were plowed into research and development of the diagnostic test, Mr. Modali said.

The biochemist said he can't project when he might come up with his first diagnostic test, but he hopes it will be soon.

So far, the company has not gone out to seek private venture capital, and Mr. Modali said he hopes he won't need to.

MetPath gives college laboratory equipment

MetPath, a medical laboratory in Timonium, donated $50,000 worth of laboratory equipment to Villa Julie College to support its bachelor of arts degree in science and technology and the medical laboratory program.

The equipment includes a gas chromatograph and an ultracentrifuge.

The college is upgrading its laboratory so that students will be able to learn to use equipment similar to that used in research and clinical laboratories. Villa Julie has purchased a high-speed centrifuge, an apparatus used in recombinant DNA studies.

BioWhittaker shifts focus to more R&D

BioWhittaker Inc., a Frederick County biotechnology company that already has products and profits, says it will put more focus on research and development and hopes to develop a small number of new products to increase profits.

The company has rearranged its management structure and created a position of vice president for science and development, which will be filled by Dr. Andrew J. O'Beirn.

Noel L. Buterbaugh was named chief executive officer . He had been the company's president.

BioWhittaker, which was spun off from Whittaker Corp. a year ago, develops and makes clinical diagnostic tests and cell culture products for health care and biotechnology companies.

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