The NIH and Its Role in Technology Transfer

The NIH is a leader in medical breakthroughs, with the discovery of new biological molecules, processes and pathways, novel medical technologies, and innovative applications of existing medical knowledge. Many important medical breakthroughs begin in the research laboratories at the NIH, where scientists take the first step in the amelioration and curing of disease. Technology transfer at the NIH begins in these laboratories and makes these discoveries available to improve public health through licensing and collaboration agreements with the private sector. The NIH technology transfer function moves medical innovation from the benchtop through additional research and development, testing, regulatory approval, manufacturing, and finally to distribution as a medical product which will improve the health of everyone.

Technology transfer at the NIH is a process which transfers medical knowledge from NIH laboratories to other organizations for the purpose of developing that knowledge into medical products to enhance the public health. In the course of their research, NIH scientists often make important medical discoveries. These NIH scientists disclose their discoveries to NIH technology transfer specialists who decide if patenting is appropriate, and when a patent is sought, begin to seek appropriate development and commercialization partners and licensees. Inventions developed in the NIH’s laboratories are owned by the NIH and are patented as appropriate. Through such resources as Federal Register notices and the NIH’s website, potential licensees and collaborators are made aware of NIH inventions, and discussions begin between them and the NIH technology transfer specialist. These discussions then develop into agreement negotiations, with the ultimate goal being a license or other collaboration agreement to develop NIH inventions further into medical products.

Patent prosecution decisions and the negotiation and execution of new licenses, are the responsibility of the individual institutes within the NIH. Click here for a list of NIH IC Technology Transfer Offices and their Technology Development Coordinators.


The NIH Office of Technology Transfer

The NIH Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) plays a strategic role by supporting the patenting and licensing efforts of our NIH ICs. OTT protects, monitors, markets and manages the wide range of NIH discoveries, inventions, and other intellectual property as mandated by the Federal Technology Transfer Act and related legislation.

To accomplish its mission, OTT staff provide management and oversight of the collection and disbursement of royalties, monitor and enforce patent rights and licensing agreements, coordinate the payment of all patent annuities, market available technologies to the private sector, provide legal docketing services, and provide technology development systems support and expertise to the NIH Technology Transfer community.