U.Va. Patent Foundation Internships Prepare Graduate Students for Career Success

November 03, 2010

November 3, 2010 — Today's innovation economy offers scientists a variety of career alternatives, and the University of Virginia Patent Foundation is doing its part to prepare U.Va. students for career success through its competitive graduate student internship program.

Patent Foundation interns work with licensing professionals to help assess the patentability and marketability of inventions developed across Grounds, which they accomplish by searching existing patents and literature and by conducting market analyses.

Interns also help identify marketing opportunities and write summaries to communicate the features and benefits of new technologies to potential corporate partners. They are often invited to sit in on meetings and negotiations and take advantage of additional professional development opportunities.

Nearly 100 U.Va. graduate students have interned with the Patent Foundation over the past two decades, and many have gone on to be successful in business, industry, government, advocacy, the legal profession and academia.

In August, Stanley O. King II landed a job as a technology licensing associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. King interned at the Patent Foundation for two years, during which he enjoyed his exposure to the wide diversity of technologies under development at U.Va.

"I believe the Patent Foundation's internship program has found the mix of structure and free-form learning that is key training for a job in tech transfer or any non-research career," said King, who received a Ph.D. in neuroscience and behavior from U.Va.'s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences last spring. "The skills I developed as an intern, and the Patent Foundation's focus on creating value that benefits the University community and society at large, influence my daily decisions and have significantly helped me in my new job."

Johanna S. Schneider credits the Patent Foundation for helping to launch her career. After her internship in 2008, Schneider took a job as a technology development associate at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"The internship was, quite simply, the major reason I got the job," said Schneider, who interned at the Patent Foundation during her post-doctoral fellowship in the School of Medicine's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. "While at the UVAPF, I became skilled at writing clear and concise invention summaries for a broad audience of non-scientists and at identifying and contacting potential technology licensing and development partners. I beat out a lot of other candidates with more classroom training because I had this hands-on experience."

Also putting his internship skills to use is Jamie Hoberg, who is now a business development manager in the bioscience division of the Millipore Corporation, a leading life sciences company providing cutting-edge technologies, tools and services for bioscience research and biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

"My current role at Millipore requires technology evaluation, market analysis, license contracts and negotiations. I learned each one of these skills as an intern at the UVAPF," said Hoberg, who earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from U.Va. in 2005. "I really love my current job, and I would not have had the opportunity to get the job without my experience at the UVAPF."

Jennifer H. Moore, who interned with the Patent Foundation before receiving a Ph.D. in molecular physiology and biological physics from U.Va. in 2004, also said her internship was a "big factor" in landing her first job in technology transfer at Emory University. She continues to put her skills to work as the current executive director of Southeast BIO, a non-profit organization that fosters the growth of the region's life sciences industry through efforts that promote entrepreneurship and bring companies, investors and universities together.

What Moore most enjoyed about her internship was "learning how to think beyond the laboratory about the impact that inventions resulting from basic scientific research can have on society, and how to help facilitate the commercialization of these inventions for the common good," she said.

Patent Foundation officials see the organization's longstanding internship program as a way of giving back to the University community.

"We routinely serve U.Va. researchers through the protection and advancement of their discoveries to the marketplace, but it's also important for us to serve the educational mission of the University, which we do through our internship program, law clinic and various outreach activities," said Miette H. Michie, executive director and CEO of the Patent Foundation.

"We are so proud to have worked with these students and helped them develop the skills vital for success in a diverse range of careers, and we have been thrilled to extend job offers to many exceptional U.Va. students upon completion of their internships," Michie added.

Several interns have gone on to accept full-time positions at the Patent Foundation following their internships.

Debjani P. Hudgens served as a licensing associate at the Patent Foundation for two years after her completing her internship and earning her Ph.D. in chemistry from U.Va. in 2006.

"The UVAPF provided me a great deal of mentorship and training in the fundamentals of patents and licensing, which helped open up an entirely new career path for me," said Hudgens, now a licensing manager for GE Healthcare-Life Sciences.

Erik Halvorsen followed a similar path, earning a joint Ph.D. in pharmacology and neurology from U.Va. in 1999 and interning with the Patent Foundation before becoming a full-time staff member.

"As an intern, I discovered that I could make an impact by translating research and innovation to the marketplace, where it can benefit patients in the forms of new devices, diagnostics and treatments for disease," said Halvorsen, now the director of technology and business development at Children's Hospital Boston. "That was what I wanted to do, and I have been doing it ever since."

For more information about the Patent Foundation's graduate student internship program, or to apply, visit here.