January 2012

NIH speeds up technology-transfer process


The National Institutes of Health has launched an electronic database called the Research Materials catalogue (eRMa) that will streamline the federal government’s technology transfer process. The system will cut down the response time for requests for unpatented materials produced by NIH researchers from six months to a few days.

More than 6,000 researchers at NIH laboratories create unpatented materials that are available to companies for their use. Examples of materials include mouse models for cancer-therapy development and cell lines necessary to test new therapies for chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure. The companies receive the unpatented materials through internal use licenses executed by NIH’s Office of Technology Transfer. An NIH internal use license is a contract that oversees the transfer of tangible research materials from the NIH to a company for commercial research use.

To make the process easier, the eRMa will offer a website for companies to find and license unpatented materials using a ready-made contract. The website will also allow a company to pay online through Pay.gov and receive the materials from an NIH lab quickly. For nonprofit research organizations interested in obtaining NIH materials through a material transfer agreement, the NIH will launch the web-based Transfer Agreement Dashboard, which will do the equivalent job of the eRMa.

Raj_MukhopadhyayRajendrani Mukhopadhyay (rmukhopadhyay@asbmb.org) is the senior science writer for ASBMB Today and the technical editor for JBC.


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