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Wistar Institute doubling down on tech transfer efforts

The University City-based biomedical research center recently hired its first executive director of technology transfer.

The Wistar Institute, the University City-based biomedical research center that’s the oldest of its kind in the country, wants to ramp up its commercialization efforts.

That means creating a new position — executive director of technology transfer — that oversees the center’s tech transfer efforts. Wistar recently hired Heather Steinman for the job. Steinman used to run tech transfer at Penn’s medical school, which produced the most startups in the last three years of any Penn school.

Steinman’s job is to connect researchers with investors and business experts. She said Wistar’s been a place for “hidden gems” of discoveries but that it historically hasn’t had a strong network of people to help bring these discoveries to market. Wistar’s strengths fall in cancer research. It’s home to the second largest melanoma lab in the U.S. (the first is at the National Institutes of Health).

Wistar’s emphasis on tech transfer comes at at time when the life sciences industry is changing — with less government funding and more sponsored research. Other local institutions are responding to this change, too: Penn recently celebrated the launch of its streamlined tech transfer office, the Penn Center for Innovation. The PCI aims to be a more pro-active tech transfer office that encourages more professors to commercialize their research findings, said PCI COO Laurie Actman.

As MedCity News noted: “Even without a tech transfer director, the institute’s licensing revenue record is not too shabby. In a 2013 survey of hospitals generating the most licensing revenue by the Association of University Technology Transfer Managers, Wistar ranked fifth with $17.76 million for fiscal year 2012.”

Wistar also launched a new $100 million tower at 3601 Spruce Street this past fall.

Companies: Wistar Institute

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