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Tech-Transfer Maven

Lita Nelsen, who ran the technology-transfer office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is retiring after 30 years, Stat News reports.

Nelsen, it adds, set the standard for tech-transfer offices. "[A]ny time a venture capitalist, a pharmaceutical company, or a tech titan wanted to cash in on an invention at [MIT], each had to go through her," Stat News writes.

Nelsen joined the office soon after the Bayh-Dole Act, which gave universities and not the federal government ownership of inventions developed under federal grants, went into effect. MIT, she tells Stat News, was better positioned to take advantage of the new situation as it was established to bring science to industry, the arts, and agriculture.

These days, the tech-transfer office there oversees about 90 licensing deals and the launch of some 25 companies a year. Many of these companies, Stat News adds, stay in the area. "You walk down the street and you say, 'Well, I remember when that one was born, and I remember when that one was born,'" Nelsen adds.

Nelsen is to be succeeded by Lesley Millar-Nicholson from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.