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.”
What is the best part about being an attorney?
Getting to work with these fantastic clients. These are really cool organizations, and I feel so privileged to sit down with them, learn what they are doing and try to help them.
What was your worst course in law school?
Labor law, definitively. It was my last final in law school.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what do you think you would have chosen as a career path?
I’d be an engineer.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Wisconsin?
What is your greatest extravagance?
My triathlon bike, a Felt B16
What can you spend hours doing that’s not law-related?
Working out, endurance running
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My hairline. I’m losing the hair.
If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
Batman. He’s got all those toys for an engineer.
What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue?
Patience. My parents were always telling me it was a virtue. I still struggle with that one.
Which living person do you most admire?