News Release: Research, University News

Sep. 21,  2011

University-Industry Partnerships Drive Economic Impact, Improvements in Health Care

Emory joins other AAU institutions in commitment to research, development and entrepreneurship

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Emory University has joined other leading national academic institutions in a commitment to enhance university partnerships with industry, private foundations, venture capitalists, and government through technology transfer, entrepreneurship and economic development.

The commitment by members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), detailed in an April letter from university presidents to then Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, parallels an initiative by the Obama administration to encourage widespread support of scientific research and education through strong budgets for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Defense.

Last week President Obama signed into law the "Leahy-Smith America Invents Act," which reforms the U.S. patent system and is designed to strengthen the nation's capacity to innovate and expand the economy and compete in the global marketplace.

Federal funding of university research, along with the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which allowed universities to own and benefit financially from the research discoveries of their scientists, has boosted economic growth locally, regionally and nationally over the past two decades. It has led to increased and more productive relationships with industry, resulting in new discoveries that have benefited consumers and patients throughout the world.

Emory University, through a highly active Office of Technology Transfer and the entrepreneurial efforts of many of its researchers, has been successful in translating many discoveries from its laboratories into products that have been commercialized and made available to patients and consumers.

In an article in the Feb. 10, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Emory was cited as being the nation's fourth leading contributor to drug discovery among U.S. public-sector institutions, based on several HIV/AIDS drugs and their combinations that are used by 94 percent of U.S. patients on therapy and by thousands more globally.

Emory scientists have formed 55 start-up companies, and have invented 50 technologies currently in the Emory product pipeline, either through products already in the marketplace, in clinical trials, or in the early stages of licensing. Emory has received more than $788M in licensing fees from commercialized products and on average continues to receive approximately $20M a year via licensed products.

Scientists in the recently established Emory Institute for Drug Discovery and in the Emory-Chemical Biology Discovery Center also are working to translate early-stage inventions into value-added products suitable for commercialization.

"Emory's success in discovering new drugs and devices that are patented, licensed to industry, and currently are in the marketplace is attributable to substantial and sustained federal research funding, the scientific expertise and entrepreneurial drive of our scientists, and the financial, administrative and philosophical support of Emory to the process," says Emory President James Wagner. "Funds received from technology transfer are infused into the Georgia economy and help create jobs, educational opportunities, lifesaving drugs and devices, and funding for more research."

Emory's most notable tech transfer success came in 2005 with the sale of future royalties for the HIV/AIDS drug Emtriva, resulting in a $540M return for the University and the faculty inventors. Those funds resulted in a significant expansion in Emory programs in scientific research and education. In addition, the faculty inventors have returned substantial funds to the university for expanded research in their own and related laboratories.

"Emory is committed to improving and expanding its relationships with industry partners," says Todd Sherer, PhD, director of Emory's Office of Technology Transfer and the current president-elect of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM). "We believe that strong federal funding of research universities, along with innovative entrepreneurial relationships including research and education, will lead to new flows of research funds and significant and impactful discoveries."

Emory also works closely with Atlanta and Georgia economic development programs that encourage and facilitate university relationships with industry. These include:

  • the Georgia Research Alliance, a partnership among business, state government and industry that promotes economic development in Georgia;
  • Georgia Bio, a non-profit organization that promotes the growth of the life sciences industry in Georgia; and
  • the Bioscience Leadership Council of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Emory's partnerships with other academic institutions, including the Georgia Institute of Technology, Morehouse School of Medicine and the University of Georgia, also have resulted in increased research funding and industry collaboration. The Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI), a federally funded CTSA partnership aimed at improving the conduct of clinical trials, encourages partnerships with industry aimed at patient care improvements.

Originally posted on Sept. 16, 2011

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