Essay about Syndexa and Technology Transfer at Harvard

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1. Towards the end of his medical training in the early 1980s, Gokhan Hotamisligil was working on a unique tumor case on a patient and found they were comprised primarily of fat cells. The fatty tumors were due to a rare condition, Proteus Syndrome. Working in the field of metabolic regulation Hotamisligil began to explore the underlying pathways for insulin resistance. In his dissertation he discovered that the fat tissue of obese animals and humans were capable of producing inflammatory mediators. His research helped shape the current view of fat tissue as a “discrete, active organ in its own right, continuously exchanging messages with the rest of the body by way of the bloodstream.” By early 2002 Hotamisligil and his laboratory made…show more content…
To balance these competing interests, Harvard agreed to receive an equity stake in the company, and Syndexa would pay Harvard a small up-front fee to license the patents that Hotamisligil had developed. For Syndexa one of the key parts of negotiations was centered on the research that the start-up intended to fund in Hotamisligil’s lab at Harvard. Harvard had major concerns with how the Syndexa-sponsored research will be separated from the other funds (government- or foundation-funded projects) that Hotamisligil receives. Harvard cannot funnel federally funded inventions to companies, however at the same time Syndexa was looking for assurance that they would have first crack at intellectual property for a technology that they funded. Another major issue extending negotiations was the conditions under which Syndexa would make royalty payments to Harvard for products that were not covered under Harvard patents, but discovered using Harvard technologies. To ensure that Harvard would receive a reasonable return on the patents it was licensing, Syndexa agreed to pay a small royalty rate if they developed a new therapeutic cure for diabetes using its Harvard license. Both parties agreed to the concept of an ‘identified product’, essentially a drug discovered through the use of patents, targets and assays being licensed from Harvard. Negotiations over what constituted an ‘identified product’ continued through the rest

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