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UCSD Ranks Among World's Top Biotech Hotbeds

U.S.Remains Global Powerhouse in Biotech Research and U.S. Universities-- Including UC San Diego—Lead the World in Technology Transfer

September 19, 2006 -- The University of California, San Diego, long recognized for its pivotal role in seeding what has become one of the largest and most dense biotech sectors in the nation, was ranked among the top universities in the world for its prowess in developing and translating biotechnology into medical treatments, drugs, and other commercial applications.

The 300-page study, released today by The Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank, examines and ranks universities worldwide on several key factors that measure biotechnology development and transfer success, including published research, patents issued and commercial outcomes. Mind to Market: A Global Analysis of University Biotechnology Transfer and Commercialization attempted to identify which universities in the world performed the most efficiently and effectively during the three critical stages of biotechnology development and transfer: publications, patents, and commercialization index.

In the study, U.S. universities dominate the top rankings worldwide across the three performance indicators. UC San Diego was recognized in all three areas.

“We are very pleased to be recognized in this major study,” said Marye Anne Fox, Chancellor of UC San Diego.  “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 can be traced to both our longstanding commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation and university-industry partnerships. Our technology transfer office has played a significant role in this success, which has resulted in major economic, commercial, and healthcare benefits to the San Diego region and California.”

In addition to the rankings on publications and patent activity, where UC San Diego ranked 6th and 8th, respectively, the UC system overall was ranked 2nd after MIT on technology transfer commercialization, which included start-ups—the number of new spin-off companies—and patents issued. UC San Diego was also singled out for its “exemplary performance” within the subfield of cell and developmental biology, where it received a 67 percent higher citation rate than the university average in the sample.

Also examined in the study was the role that university offices of technology transfer (OTT) play in facilitating the lab-to-marketplace process.  The study compared university technology processes around the world and attempted to identify the common characteristics in successful commercialization.  The researchers determined that for every $1 invested in OTT staff, universities receive $6 in licensing income. Furthermore, for each additional year an OTT is in operation, $228,000 of incremental licensing income is generated for the university.

"This study bears out the importance of academic technology transfer," said Alan Paau, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Technology Transfer & Intellectual Property Services at UC San Diego. “The San Diego region is home to more than 500 biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies.  Their success depends on the availability of research from institutions like UC San Diego and on our ability to transfer our discoveries to private sector partners where they can benefit the public. As the U.S. economy becomes increasingly based on intellectual output, the successful transfer of academic discoveries into commercial activities will ensure the vitality and the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses."

A few recent examples of the many successful biotechnology products based on UCSD research include: ErbituxÒ for the treatment of colorectal and head and neck cancers; ElmironÒ for the treatment of interstitial cystitis; UltravisÒ for ultrasound imaging; firefly luciferase and green fluorescent protein derivatives for biological research; metabolites from marine microbes for anti-winkle cosmetics; and a diagnostic assay for the detection of cytomegalovirus.

UC San Diego’s technology transfer program, established only 12 years ago, has successfully secured approximately 560 U.S. patents, granted 494 licenses for commercial development, and has founded more than 100 start-ups based on licensed UCSD technologies.   In addition, it is now estimated that more than 220 companies have been spun off from UCSD (from faculty, staff and alumni) since it’s inception in 1960. Within the UC system, UC San Diego is second only to UCSF in the number of U.S. patents secured.  


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