Kerafast Community Profile: Dr. Patrick Reynolds, Licensing Associate at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes the commercialization of University of Tennessee (UT) intellectual property. As one of the foundation’s licensing associates, Dr. Patrick Reynolds manages the commercialization of various life science technologies, medical devices and software.

Dr. Reynolds has played a key role in adding novel reagents to the Kerafast portfolio, helping to establish the licensing agreement that allows UT researchers to share their reagents via the Kerafast platform. He also coordinates with Kerafast to add UT principal investigators and their research materials to the program.

As a result, UT researchers are currently sharing many unique reagents through Kerafast, which have been used by scientists across the globe (five continents and counting!) to accelerate their research. Materials provided by UT investigators include:

  • Toxoplasma gondii whole cell antigen: useful for detecting Toxoplasma gondii infection via the modified agglutination test (MAT)
  • Button tether for rat infusions: can be surgically implanted into the backs of rats to provide an exit point for indwelling catheters, making it ideal for short- and long-term infusion studies
  • Slide-in plant chamber: allows for real-time repeated imaging of plant root systems over short and long timeframes without sacrificing the plant

We spoke with Dr. Reynolds to learn more about his role in the technology commercialization process. He also shared his advice for researchers looking to license their technologies, as well as discussed the rise in faculty-created mobile apps and the way technology commercialization aligns with his passion for music.

See below for his interview and then review the full list of UT reagents available via the Kerafast website.

1. What is your role at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation? What is a typical day like in your position?

I am a licensing associate. Part of what I like about the job is that there is no typical day. I’m usually doing some combination of meeting with faculty to learn about their research, searching the prior art to see how novel their technologies are, protecting them with patents and copyrights where appropriate, marketing to potential commercial partners, or negotiating deals.

2. Why did you decide to pursue a career in technology commercialization? What do you enjoy about the field?

I entered this field because it takes advantage of the knowledge I gained in my former research career, but it also exposes me to a much broader array of cutting-edge research areas. One of my favorite parts of the job is the variety of technologies I work with. I may be working on an early-stage drug candidate one day and a mobile app the next. It keeps it fresh and fun.

3. What advice do you have for researchers looking to license the technologies they develop?

Increasingly, faculty members are focusing their research on market needs in addition to fundamental science. Further, sponsors and funding agencies often require researchers to focus on market needs. I like this approach, as it helps increase the likelihood of a technology being licensed. I would also encourage researchers to be involved with the commercialization project if time allows. Most successful deals involve an engaged researcher.

4. What is a recent trend in technology commercialization, and how has it affected your work?

A somewhat recent trend is that there are increasingly more mobile apps being developed by university faculty. This provides a new opportunity for outreach and revenue, and new challenges as well. As the market has largely pushed for free mobile apps, figuring out ways to monetize faculty-created apps provides a unique challenge.

5. What have been the benefits of working with Kerafast?

For researchers that have created research tools that have had a lot of demand, there has traditionally been a lot of work transferring these tools to collaborators via material transfer agreements (MTAs). Kerafast has simplified the process of transferring research tools to other research institutions while simultaneously adding a new revenue stream.

6. As you know, Kerafast’s mission is to advance life science research by facilitating access to unique bioreagents. What is a mission outside of work that you are passionate about?

I have always been passionate about both science and music. It is increasingly difficult for full-time musicians to make a sustainable wage off their talents. Whenever I can, I try to help artists find ways to make a living with their talents, as I believe the arts are every bit as crucial as STEM disciplines. There are many similarities to my work as a licensing associate, as modern musicians need to look at themselves and their music as products and look for effective ways to market and commercialize that.