Kerafast Community Profile: Dr. Shan Wan, Licensing Manager at Rutgers University

Shan Wan white space
Rutgers University researchers are sharing many unique reagents through Kerafast, including cyclic diguanosine monophosphate, exocyst complex antibodies and a CD44CR1-GFP reporter plasmid. Scientists across the globe have used these materials to accelerate their research—and the Rutgers Office of Research Commercialization has played a key role in making that possible.

Rutgers licensing manager Dr. Shan Wan worked with Kerafast to establish the licensing agreement that allows Rutgers researchers to share their reagents via the Kerafast platform. She also coordinates with Kerafast to add Rutgers principal investigators and their research materials to the program.

Throughout this process, Dr. Wan has noted several benefits of working with Kerafast, including “finding a home for unique materials, skipping the time-consuming material transfer agreement process for faculty and providing some financial reward.”

We spoke with Dr. Wan to learn more about her role in the technology commercialization process. In addition, she shared some of her insights about the challenges and trends currently impacting the tech transfer field. See below for her interview and then review the full list of Rutgers University reagents available via the Kerafast website.

1. What is your role at the Rutgers Office of Research Commercialization? What is a typical day like in your position?

I am a licensing manager at Rutgers managing approximately 200 active technology dockets in the fields of biomedical and life sciences. About 30% of my time is spent on assessing incoming invention disclosure to make patenting strategies, and another 30% of time is spent in deal making and licensing negotiations. In addition, approximately 20% of my efforts are used to deal with IP and triage issues at all stages, and the rest is spent on communications with faculty members about various issues and other miscellaneous work.

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

I enjoy the exposure to exciting technologies from different disciplines, and work on the commercial aspects to push a scientific discovery from bench side to hopefully the patients’ bedside.

3. What challenges are most often encountered when licensing life science technologies, and how do you work to overcome these obstacles?

Most of my technologies are very early stage, and there are usually huge gaps between what we have and what companies will ideally license. High risks are associated with the investment in patent costs of the early stage technologies. Thus, we try to: 1) educate faculty members about companies’ needs by bringing in business development people from large and small companies; 2) perform rigorous technology assessment and set the appropriate bar for patenting; 3) share assessment feedback with faculty to educate them about patentability and commercial opportunity; and 4) help out with funding opportunities (industry-sponsored research, SBIR/STTR, gap funding, etc.)

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

One trend I noticed is that people are starting to realize that early stage university technologies may not all be suitable for licensing, and that research collaborations (industry-sponsored research, service agreements, etc.) may be a good way to bridge the gap and a good source of funding. As a result, licensing managers are talking to companies more about collaborations rather than direct licensing.