When researchers are mapping the human brain as part of the Human Connectome Project, they probably are not thinking about the commercial opportunities of their work.
That’s where Jack Cook, an intellectual property attorney, enters the process.
Cook, who has a degree in electrical engineering, had a strong interest in math and science, but, he said, he knew early on he would leave the research to others.
“I was aware even before I went to engineering school, and it was confirmed once I got there, that I was not the kind of guy who wanted to sit at a lab bench,” Cook said. “I enjoyed the business side of things.”
He now works with many top medical research institutions, such as the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Massachusetts General Hospital. Often the cutting-edge work they are doing is in emerging areas, so the commercial opportunities are not readily apparent.
“A lot of times the research coming out of those is quite nascent,” Cook said. “It doesn’t fit into any commercial box at the time that it was invented.”
He gets to help those groups determine how their research will fit into the real world and how they can commercialize it. He looks at the research and helps develop a business strategy to bring the new technology to market.
“I try to help them translate,” Cook said, “from the research lab bench to patient bedside.”