When I first met my neighbor, she had just started working for a brand-new cable radio company. The problem was, it was so young it wasn’t even on the air yet. For about the first year she worked there, she would go to work every day and program the music to be played on the particular channels she oversaw — and that would be the end of it. No one ever got to listen to the music she picked out or the commentary she included. Presumably, the work she did provided samples to lure advertisers and future listeners — but her frustration was still understandable.
That’s sort of how I imagine university researchers before the days of tech transfer — making one discovery after another, building new technologies, and only sporadically bringing those ideas and tools to the broader world. But, as you’ll read in this month’s cover story, universities have in the past 25 years mounted an effort to patent and disperse the inventions from their scientists’ labs. Senior Editor John MacNeil takes you on a tour of these increasingly important tech transfer offices and introduces you to some technologies they’re currently offering for license. He also gives you advice from experts on how to navigate technology transfer to most effectively get your breakthroughs out to the public.
In this issue you’ll find the last of our three-part roundtable series on high-performance computing with a focus on storage. As our long-time readers will know, these roundtables are in part so insightful because of the candor of our participants. When we organized this particular group, an invited vendor said it would be happy to join in — so long as its storage expert could be accompanied by a PR person. We know that you want to hear what these people really have to say, not what their corporate message might be or what their handlers allow them to reveal. I’m pleased to report that we declined the provision, replaced the vendor, and probably had a better discussion for it.
In other news this month, we have a fresh IT column. Our IT Guy Nat Goodman, who graced the pages of this magazine for four years, has decided to focus on other opportunities (including his new startup, HD Drug Works). We are so grateful to Nat for his many contributions and for the bioinformatics wisdom he shared with all of you, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors. Going forward, we’ve renamed the software review column “IT Desk” and it will be written by several experts on a rotating basis. This month, please welcome Fran Lewitter from the Whitehead, who with her colleague George Bell tackles the topic of open-source sequence analysis packages.
Meredith W. Salisbury, Editor
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