Institute Ranks UCSD as Biotech Leader

    UCSD, located in one of the most dense biotechnology sectors in the United States, was named in a recent study as one of the top universities in the world for its ability to develop and translate biotechnology into medical treatments, drugs and other commercial applications.

    The study was released last month by the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank that uses research to identify and implement innovative ideas for “creating broad-based prosperity,” according to the institute’s Web site.

    In the study, the institute examined and ranked universities worldwide based on their abilities to transfer biotechnology by way of the three critical stages of biotech development: published research, number of patents issued and commercial outcomes.

    American universities dominated the rankings, and UCSD ranked sixth and eighth in the categories of publication and patent advancement, respectively. The UC system ranked second overall, behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the area of technology transfer commercialization, which includes biotechnology spin-off company startups.

    “We are very pleased to be recognized in this major study,” Chancellor Marye Anne Fox stated in a press release. “UC San Diego has always taken its role as an economic engine for the region very seriously. Our ability to effectively transfer knowledge to the marketplace … has played a significant role … in major economic, commercial and healthcare benefits to the San Diego region and California.”

    UCSD was also recognized for its “exemplary performance” in the field of cell and developmental biology, where its citation rate was 67 percent more than the sample’s university average.

    Assistant Vice Chancellor of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Services Alan S. Paau attributed UCSD’s success to three policies: serving as a “resource center” for activities related to intellectual property, organizing intellectual properties to promote issues related to entrepreneurism and organizing global outreach activities that promote campus technology.

    The TTIPS office began in November 1994 with a staff of two people, but has since grown to 30, Paau stated in an e-mail. In addition, UCSD has increased its technology transfer-related gross income immensely since the office’s inception, from $2.96 million in 1995 to $22.1 million in 2006. The campus has earned a total of $126.09 million in its 12-year history.

    “Technologies licensed in the earlier years are finally reaching the market and are generating royalties on products sold,” Paau stated in an e-mail.

    Licensed UCSD patents have resulted in more than 230 commercial products offered by nearly 50 companies, according to Paau.

    Among the many examples of UCSD’s biotechnology products are Erbitux, used for the treatment of colorectal, head and neck cancers, and Elmiron, which is used for the treatment of interstitial cystitis. In addition, UCSD has also produced metabolites from marine microbes for use in anti-wrinkle cosmetics and green fluorescent protein derivatives used in biological research.

    According to a UC Office of the President press release, UCSD has secured approximately 560 U.S. patents, placing second nationally behind UC San Francisco, and has granted 494 licenses for commercial development and founded more than 100 startups based on licensed UCSD technologies. Moreover, UCOP estimates that 220 companies have spun off from UCSD faculty, staff and alumni.

    UCSD plans to further its prominence in the field of biotechnology transfer by forming more partnerships with industry leaders.

    “[UCSD] is good at doing research,” Paau stated in an e-mail. “We do not have much capability (and shouldn’t) in product development. Therefore, building partnerships with industry and entrepreneurs will continue to be our plan to further our ability to turn innovations into beneficial products [that] serve society and promote regional economic development.”

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