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The Transition to Tech Transfer


Life never goes according to plan, and this month, neither did our cover story. When we originally thought about writing an article on the dynamic between academic scientists and their tech transfer offices, we thought we would end up with a story about how scientists feel badgered to disclose inventions and patent their research when they really didn’t want to do so.

Instead, it seems to be the tech transfer officers who feel more badgered than anybody. While some scientists still buy into the stigma that academics should have nothing to do with something as commercial as a patent, a good number have embraced the idea of intellectual property as an avenue to getting their research out to the public. So it’s now the tech transfer office folks who are overwhelmed, saying that they get more disclosures in a year than they can properly handle.

Clearly, the system has its kinks, but people on both sides seem fairly confident that they’ll get worked out. As that’s happening, I think you’ll find our cover story a useful place to start if you’re just getting to know the patent landscape. We tracked down experts to offer advice on how to get started and why you should consider patents for your work -- and they also provide insight to clear up the common misconceptions about the patenting process.

In other articles this month, we offer up a career advice column on how to write a better CV. From basic tips on organization to even more basic tips (don’t lie about your education!), it should be of service if your CV could stand to be dusted off and reworked. (And if you’re as busy as I think you are, then chances are you haven’t updated that all-important document in the past year, as our expert recommends.)

We also have feature articles this month on how RNAi is being used in drug discovery and development, and on new advances in methods and technology for tracking post-translational protein modifications.

This month we say a fond farewell to our senior editor, Jen Crebs, who’s heading off on an adventure in Turkey, where she’ll be spending the year pursuing her other interest -- Ottoman poetry -- under a leading scholar in the field. Jen has been a great addition to our team here at Genome Technology and we’ll miss her tremendously.

I’d also like to welcome our two newest writers, Ciara Curtin and Jeanene Swanson. They’ll be writing lots of articles for the magazine and have already been big contributors to our blog, the Daily Scan, which you can read on Genome Technology Online (

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.