THE BRIGHT IDEAS: U.VA. FACULTY PATENTS ON THE RISE
The story of the growth of U.Va.’s Patent Foundation is the story of the rise of the faculty entrepreneur. Something of an alien concept as recently as 15 years ago, the attempted commercialization of research born at the university is booming, with the Patent Foundation recording an all-time high number of invention disclosures in 2005. The trend is by no means limited to Charlottesville, either. Prospective faculty now routinely check to see that their research can find a path to the marketplace, and virtually all major universities have some sort of licensing program in place. The Patent Foundation’s longtime executive director, Robert MacWright, said he’d witnessed “quite an evolution” in faculty thinking on technology transfer issues during his tenure.
MacWright said the rise of an entrepreneurial bent among faculty members “has really moved from being a fad to a national movement.” Over the course of 20 years, the foundation has developed what it thinks is an effective path from the lab to the commercial world. The agency swings into motion once a faculty member fills out a short patent disclosure form, a document charting the specifics of the invention being claimed. Such action is required if the inventor hopes to profit off of the finding. Before one of the agency’s two patent attorneys files the claim, a licensing associate evaluates the discovery’s patentability and commercial potential. After a patent application is filed, the organization’s licensing team markets the product, seeking out firms interested in harnessing the technology for commercial purposes. From there, the foundation continues to monitor the invention, ensuring that any royalties are properly distributed. In fiscal year 2005, the foundation reported gross revenues of nearly $7 million, up from about $6.2 million in the previous year. (Daily Progress, June 4)
OBESITY IN PUBERTY LINKED TO HORMONE DISORDER
Girls who are obese during the early stages of puberty have an increased risk of developing abnormally high levels of androgens, a type of steroid hormone, according to a report in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This condition, referred to as hyperandrogenemia, is characterized by high levels of androgens, such as testosterone or androsterone, hormones that control the development of masculine characteristics. Hyperandrogenemia is also associated with the later development of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that includes infertility, obesity, abnormal menstrual cycles and excessive hair growth.
“I would be pleased if these findings contribute to an increased awareness that hyperandrogenemia may be more common in obese children and adolescents, and that relative hyperandrogenemia may be present very early on (i.e., even before clinical puberty is evident),” Dr. Christopher R. McCartney from U.Va.’s Health System, Charlottesville, told Reuters Health. … Most doctors know that childhood obesity is associated with abnormal glucose metabolism, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems, all conditions that increase the future risk of cardiovascular disease, McCartney said. “However, it seems less well appreciated that obesity may be associated with cosmetic problems (e.g., hirsutism) in the near-term and may have implications for future fertility.” (Reuters, June 1)
U.VA. HOLDS PUBLIC BUILDING FORUM
U.Va. officials held a community forum, “Building the University of Tomorrow,” on Tuesday to discuss the University’s many construction projects. On tap for discussion were the John Paul Jones Arena and South Lawn projects, among others. (Daily Progress, June 8)