Offices of Biotechnology and Business Development

Research Tools Initiative: Agent Reagent Program

What is the Agent Reagent program?

The office of business development (OBD) is establishing a comprehensive research tools initiative called Agent Reagent. This initiative is led by David Silva and Ece Auffarth. The OBD has begun contacting researchers at Einstein to identify the inventory of research tools located on campus and to ascertain their commercial potential. The goal of this initiative is to license patentable or nonpatentable college-owned biological materials or methods developed here at Einstein to industry.

What are research tools?

For the most part research tools are patented or unpatented biologic materials developed during the normal course of scientific research and are designed to fulfill unmet needs. Unmet needs may arise because existing tools may not be sufficiently effective for certain applications or because no such tool exists. These tools can also benefit the research of others. Some examples include:

  • Animal models, transgenic animals and other model organisms
  • Assays and assay systems
  • Cell lines (e.g., stem cell, primary or genetically modified)
  • Clones, genomic or cDNA libraries
  • Cloning tools and expression vectors
  • Combinatorial chemistry libraries
  • Compounds and drug targets
  • Databases and computer software
  • Experimental protocols or methods
  • Enzymes, growth factors and other proteins
  • Laboratory equipment and machines
  • Monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies

Why are research tools important?

Research tools are important because they facilitate the scientific process. For example, the additional use of a research tool may lead to results that validate the inventor’s observations or allow other researchers to address previously unanswerable questions. In addition, with the decline of federal support for biomedical research it is becoming ever more important to conserve financial resources where possible. Distributing our research tools as broadly as possible allows other researchers to conduct their research without having to replicate our tools or, due to limited resources, to abandon promising lines of inquiry.

Sharing of research tools among biomedical researchers also allows medical research to advance more qyuckly and efficiently, which serves the public good by leading to the more rapid identification of new therapeutics and diagnostics. Industry may also use these research tools for its internal research or to distribute them to others, depending on the nature of the research tool. The revenue generated by this initiative is then distributed according to Einstein’s patent policy (whether or not the tool is patented).

Why should I become an “agent” and disclose my research tools?

Any invention (including research tools and other patented or nonpatented biologics) developed with government funding is required by federal law and the college’s Official Policy on Patents and Licensing Agreements to be disclosed to our office so we can report the invention to the government.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) urge that such tools be made available to other academic researchers through NIH Sharing Plans and Material Transfer Agreements, as well as to industrial partners through licensing and other methods of commercialization. The sharing of research tools leads to the efficient advancement of science and serves the public interest in a manner consistent with the academic mission and role of scientists at Einstein.

Licensing these reagents to commercial partners is a way to fulfill Einstein’s obligations to our grantors (particularly the NIH), to support Einstein’s mission, to assist our faculty’s research and to better reward our faculty inventors.

How can you know if you have a research tool?

If the statements below are TRUE, you most likely have a research tool.

  • The tool is a useful resource that can help others further their research.
  • The tool is either an improvement over existing tools designed for the same applications or fulfills an unmet scientific need for which no tool exists or is publicly available.
  • The tool, by itself, cannot be submitted to the FDA as a new therapeutic or diagnostic product.
  • The tool can be useful to many scientists, and it may have a broad range of applicability.
  • The tool does not need significant additional development to be used.
  • The tool may be easily distributed.
  • The tool is not a commercial-scale production process.

What should you do if you have a research tool? -How can you participate and become an “agent”?

If you think you may have a research tool and have not spoken with David Silva or Ece Auffarth yet, let them know! Please fill out the Research Tools Disclosure Form and submit it to our office. If you have any questions regarding this project, please contact David Silva.

How are research tools transferred?

The office of biotechnology uses Material Transfer Agreements or licensing agreements as the vehicles to transfer research tools developed at Einstein to industry and other researchers. Depending on the research tool, it is often preferable for the office to license one tool to several industry partners, nonexclusively. This provides opportunities for broader dissemination and increased use of the tool. The office has used this model effectively in licensing research tools for many of our investigators.

Keep in mind, just as each research tool is unique, so is its commercial value. The value of a research tool varies based on its use, functionality, accessibility, reproducibility, robustness and areas of applicability, among other qualities.

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