OTM Trainee Program

The OTM trainee programs expose the individual to a broad range of technology transfer related activities in order for them to acquire skills and experience in the commercial development of research discoveries.

Technology Transfer Trainee Program

Listed below is an overview of the trainee program and the skills and knowledge that will be acquired.  Also, you will find information on our past and present trainees. For more information, please email OTM or call 314.747.0920.

Program Overview

Phase 1 (Months 1/2) – Observe, intake, and shadow a Business Development Director (BDD)

  • Read, observe, and preform tasks to understand the business, legal, and scientific considerations of the job
  • Shadow the BDD mentor as he/she conducts routine case management
  • Become familiarized with reference reading about Bayh-Dole, patent, Association of University Technology Managers manual information, etc.
  • Become familiarized with Washington University’s policies and the broad roles/skills of a business development staff member

Phase 2 (Months 3/4) – Project driven, intern shadowed by BDD

  • Shadowed by BDD and conduct various parts of case management with direction
  • Conduct inventor meetings, complete tech assessments with the critical information pertaining to legal, business and science considerations
  • Perform perfunctory, straightforward case management and understand the some of the critical questions to ask in more complicated cases
  • Negotiate simple contracts such as Material Transfer Agreements and Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements

Phase 3 (Months 5/6) – Demonstration of skills 

  • Handle cases on his/her own using the BDD mentor as a guide and checkpoint
  • Handle more complicated case management and understand the critical questions and the gaps that need to be filled in such cases

Current Technology Transfer Trainees

December 2016 to Present – Renatus Sinkeldam, PhD
Renatus Sinkeldam conducted his undergraduate research (B.Sc. and M.Sc.) in in-organic and organic chemistry labs at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), where he worked on small molecule synthesis and their characterization.  He obtained his Ph.D. degree from Eindhoven University of Technology for completing his doctoral thesis in the areas of macro molecular chemistry and supra molecular chemistry.  In his thesis, Renatus describes his work on the synthetic modification of the indigo dye for use in organic solar cells and on the design, synthesis, and analysis of ‘foldamers’ – oligomers that can adopt a helical architecture in solution.  As a postdoctoral fellow, and later assistant project scientist, at the University of California-San Diego, he designed and synthesized non-perturbing fluorescent nucleosides for the study of nucleic acid structure, stability, lesions, and interactions with small molecules.  Renatus developed assays for the detailed analysis of their photophysical responsiveness toward environmental properties (e.g.changing pH, polarity, and viscosity).  He was the first to study the enzymatic conversion of a modified fluorescent analog of adenosine into a fluorescent analog of inosine using absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy.  In addition to research papers, Renatus co-authored an extensive review article in Chemical Reviews, as well as multiple book chapters on naturally occurring and synthetic fluorescent bio-molecular building blocks.  After his move to the St. Louis area, he joined The BALSA consultancy group, where he obtained relevant business experience and exposure to the possibilities of a career away from the bench.  This led to a marketing internship at OTM, which deepened his interest in the commercialization of nascent technologies.  He is now a Technology Transfer Trainee at OTM.

Past Technology Transfer Trainees

February 2016 to August 2016 – Tiffany Lucas, PhD
Tiffany Lucas completed a postdoctoral position in innate immunity and viral infection of the central nervous system at Washington University, under direction of Michael Diamond, MD, PhD, where she was a recipient of an NRSA-NIH Infectious Disease Fellowship.  Tiffany received her PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Missouri as a Life Sciences Fellow under direction of Marc Johnson, PhD.  As a Fellow, she used interdisciplinary approaches to understand how retroviruses (e.g., HIV-1) usurp cells and creating potential new targets for antiviral and gene therapy. She completed a Masters in Entomology at the University of Arizona and USDA Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, under direction of Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, PhD.  There, Tiffany researched the role of parasitic mites on honey bees and the effects on bee learning and brain development.  Prior to graduate school, she completed a BS in Biology at Truman State University with thesis honors focusing on biological control of ticks with Laura Fielden, PhD.  After completing her six months as an OTM trainee, Tiffany began a teaching position at Saint Louis University.

January 2016 to July 2016 – George Chellapa, PhD
George D. Chellapa was awarded bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry (College of Chemical Sciences, Sri Lanka) and Computing and Information Systems (London Metropolitan University, England), obtaining First Class Honours in both.  In 2005, he was awarded an Overseas Research Scholarship by the British Government to read for his Ph.D. at the University of Southampton, England.  His Ph.D. research focused on developing new coarse grain molecular dynamics force fields to better understand lipid and DNA interactions.  Prior to joining the OTM, George was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, investigating the thermodynamic principles driving protein folding using computational modeling.  After his time at OTM, George accepted a licensing position at the University of Chicago.

February 2015 to August 2015 – Sara Ahmed
Sara Ahmed received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Oberlin College then went on to complete a PhD at Northwestern University in the Department of Molecular Biosciences. During her PhD, Sara worked under the guidance of Dr. Jason Brickner to help understand the importance of three dimensional gene positioning and movement in the nucleus and its effect on gene expression. In graduate school, Sara was also accepted into the Business for Scientist training program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University which spiked her interest in how science and business interface with each other.  After completion of her PhD, she accepted a role as Senior Scientist at Cofactor Genomics, a St. Louis-based, next-generation sequencing provider, and most recently served as the Director of Sequencing for the organization. During her time at Cofactor Genomics, Sara learned about startups, small business funding opportunities and technology commercialization.

March 2015 to July 2015 – Scott Crick
Scott Crick graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University in 2005. He continued his education at Washington University under the support of a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and obtained a PhD in Biomedical Engineering in 2011 under the mentorship of Professor Rohit V. Pappu and Professor Carl Frieden. Scott’s graduate research was focused on understanding why certain proteins aggregate and cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Scott continued this course of study as a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Pappu’s lab until 2013. At this point, Scott accepted an NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the cell biology of protein aggregation inside the lysosomes of neuronal cells in the lab of Professor Jin-Moo Lee. During his postdoctoral fellowship, Scott became involved with OTM through his work with The BALSA Group. This interaction with OTM really appealed to Scott’s love of technology and innovation, and he was excited to be selected as an OTM Trainee. He is looking forward to learning as much as he can about the process of technology transfer and commercialization.  Scott joined OTM as a Licensing Associate in July of 2015.

August 2014 to February 2015 – Jennifer Richards
Jennifer Richards earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After working as a clinical partner at SSM St. Joseph Health Center, Jennifer decided to pursue a PhD in biomedical research. She joined the Biomedical Science Core program at Saint Louis University in 2010 and earned her PhD in Pharmacological and Physiological Science in 2014 under the mentorship of Dr. Randy S. Sprague. Jennifer’s doctoral research focused on the ability of the red blood cell to participate in the regulation of blood flow to areas in skeletal muscle with decreased tissue oxygen content, especially in type 2 diabetes. Jennifer’s interest in translational research made the OTM trainee position a good fit as much of the work in the OTM endeavors to progress inventions from the bench to bedside.  Jennifer joined the OTM as a Licensing Associate in February of 2015.

September 2013 to July 2014 – Mohit Sharma
Mohit Sharma earned his PhD in August 2013 from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, with a specialty in Neuroscience. After completing his undergraduate studies at SUNY Stony Brook, he joined the department of biomedical engineering as a graduate student in fall of 2007.  His thesis research focused on the study of cortical dynamics from the same-sided (ipsilateral) hemisphere when human subjects performed upper-limb movements that required higher order kinematic control. Towards the latter part of his graduate career, he became interested in the commercialization aspect of life sciences and biotechnology, and joined the student led not-for-profit Biotechnology And Life Science Advising (BALSA) group. His first project as a BALSA consultant involved working with OTM on technical and market evaluation of three novel technologies developed at Washington University. After a successful first project, he was promoted to the position of Project Manager for the next series of OTM projects where he mentored three new consultants through the process of technology assessment.

This initial experience with BALSA and the OTM further enhanced his interest in business and commercialization of biotechnology. To learn more about the process of taking research and technology from bench to market, he joined the OTM as a Technology Transfer Trainee in September 2013 after his graduation. During the six month trainee program, his responsibilities include performing technical and market assessment for provisional patents of novel inventions; commercial re-assessment for full patent conversions; writing, modifying and negotiating the multiple types of agreements that the OTM signs both with industry and other academic institutions; and helping expand the OTM awareness among different Washington University schools. Adequate training in honing these skills fit right into his career plans and will be of immense importance in his future endeavors. Mohit is looking forward to joining the life-sciences and biotechnology business industry in order to help develop successful businesses. He is in the process of applying and interviewing for both management/strategy consulting and research analyst for investment institutions that cater to the life sciences industry. His expertise in biotechnology and keen business acumen puts him in a position to succeed in either domain.

December 2012 to September 2013 – Bo Bi
Bo Bi (Bobby) received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Nanjing University, China. He came to Washington University in 2007 and earned his PhD in 2012. Bobby’s doctoral research focused on building molecule libraries and developing a real-time assay to probe ligand-receptor interactions on a novel platform. Motivated by long-term interests in bridging science and business, Bobby held roles in technology marketing and consulting through the BALSA group with corporations and start-ups during his graduate school career. These experiences encouraged additional professional development in the area of technology transfer and commercialization through the OTM trainee program.

October 2012 to September 2013 – Craig Weilbaecher
Craig Weilbaecher earned both his bachelors and doctorate degrees in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His multi-disciplinary research project allowed him to work across many of the life science and engineering disciplines designing and developing sensors and biomaterials for applications in medical devices, defense, environmental, and food safety. After obtaining his PhD and starting a post-doctoral research position, his career path and focus changed tremendously when he started his own biotechnology company. In addition to Craig’s entrepreneurial experience, he also worked as a biotechnology consultant evaluating early stage technology and building go-to-market strategies before starting the OTM Trainee Program.  Craig’s work as an OTM trainee led to his current position as a Licensing Associate for the technology transfer functions of the Office of Research Administration at the University of Missouri St. Louis.

January 2012 to June 2012 – Corey Lohnes
Corey received a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Science degree in Human Movement Science from the University of Memphis.  Currently, he is finishing his PhD in Movement Science at Washington University.  Corey’s doctoral research focuses on the role of oculomotor function during locomotion in persons with Parkinson’s disease.  In search of an alternative career path, Corey volunteered through the Biotechnology and Life Science Advising (BALSA) group to work with OTM on a short project to learn more about technology commercialization and transfer.  The experience was enjoyable and rewarding, leading Corey to apply for and accept a position in the OTM Trainee Program.  In June 2012, Corey joined OTM as a Licensing Associate.

February 2011 to September 2011 – Michael Muskus
Michael received his undergraduate degree from Wichita State University in Biology, and then went on to complete his PhD at the University of Missouri at Kansas City in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Price.  Michael then accepted a postdoctoral research position in the Department of Developmental Biology at Washington University with Dr. Kerry Kornfeld.  Michael’s work as an OTM trainee led to his current position as a Licensing Associate for the technology transfer functions of the Office of Research Administration at the University of Missouri St. Louis.  In September 2013 Michael rejoined OTM permanently as a Licensing Associate.

December 2010 to July 2012 – Shelly Strickfaden
Shelly Strickfaden received her undergraduate degree from Saint Louis University in Chemistry and History.  She went on to complete her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMass Med).   Shelly’s graduate work focused on molecular biology.  She studied signal transduction and cell polarity using budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism.  During her time at UMass Med, Shelly also interned in the Office of Technology Management for 4 years.  After graduation, Shelly worked as a Licensing Associate for Onconome, a small Seattle-based start-up company looking to develop novel cancer diagnostics.  In this role, she scouted and evaluated new technologies for synergy with the Onconome platform.

July 2010 to March 2011 – N’Goundo Magassa
N’Goundo Magassa acquired her undergraduate degree from Smith College in Biochemistry and then worked as a research technician for the Immune Disease Institute (formerly the Center for Blood Research) in Boston, MA. She went on to pursue her doctorate at Washington University in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis and her thesis involved investigating the transport mechanism of a Streptococcus pyogenes toxin into human cells. N’Goundo joined the OTM trainee program, after completing her PhD.  N’Goundo joined the Office of Technology Management as a Licensing Associate in March of 2011.

May 2010 to January 2011 – Isabel Acevedo
Isabel graduated Washington University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2006.  After graduation she joined the Anatomy and Neurobiology department at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) as a research technician.  Looking to expand her career options beyond the lab bench, she joined the one-year program at St. Louis University, from which she graduated in May 2010.  Before joining OTM, Isabel worked as an intern at BioGenerator, a nonprofit organization that provides seed funding for life-science start-ups in St. Louis.  Isabel joined the Office of Technology Management as a Licensing Associate in January of 2011.

December 2009 to March 2010 – Ben Westover
Ben holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Engineering from Brigham Young University, an Masters of Science degree in Computer Science from Washington University, and his JD degree from George Mason University.  During his undergraduate and graduate studies, he conducted research and published several articles in the fields of computer vision and computational biology.  Prior to joining OTM, Ben worked for five years as a patent agent and patent attorney in the Washington DC area, focusing on patent procurement, patent-related due diligence, and patent litigation.  He joined OTM to gain experience in negotiating and preparing legal agreements related to intellectual property, and to learn skills for commercializing research.  Ben is now working as a patent attorney for a Washington DC based law firm, where his practice focuses on patent procurement and patent-related due diligence.

January 2009 to November 2009 – Gena Stephens
Gena received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign in Cell and Structural Biology.   She then went on to complete her PhD at Washington University in Molecular and Cellular Biology under the guidance of Dr. Sarah C.R. Elgin.  After a two year post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology with Dr. Phyllis Hanson at WUSM, Gena entered the trainee program in OTM.  No longer wanting to be a bench scientist but wanting to stay immersed in the ongoing research in academia, she entered the program with the desire to use her strong scientific background to assess the commercialization potential of the technologies that were being developed in the labs.  Gena trained in the OTM for eleven months and is currently doing business development within the Department of Radiation Oncology at WUSM.  In this position Gena will be helping to facilitate the department’s interactions with contract research organizations as well as to aid in the transfer of the department’s research to the clinic and ultimately to the marketplace.

May 2008 to October 2008 – Allison Rader
Allison graduated in May of 2008 from Washington University with a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering.  Not convinced that research was her future, she started looking for alternative jobs that would still utilize her science interests.  After hearing a presentation by Brad Castanho, Co-Director of OTM, Allison applied for and became the second Trainee in OTM.  Five months later, after learning the ropes of technology transfer, Allison moved on to become a Licensing Associate in OTM.  Through working at OTM Allison realized she enjoyed the legal aspects of her job and decided to pursue that interest further.  Allison went on to study at Saint Louis University School of Law focusing on Intellectual Property/Patent law and is currently an Associate at Polsinelli PC.

November 2007 to February 2008 – Erin Brosnahan
Erin joined the OTM Technology Transfer Trainee program in November 2007 after completing her PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis at Washington University. Her thesis work examined the relationship between growth in the parasitic yeast phase and sulfur metabolism in the dimorphic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Following four months as a Trainee, Erin accepted a permanent position in OTM as a Licensing Associate where she stayed until July 2010.  Erin currently works for Polsinelli PC as a Patent Scientist.

Technology Transfer Workshop

OTM has developed a workshop to provide Washington University community members with an introduction to technology transfer and an understanding of how technology transfer intersects various efforts in intellectual property (IP) and commercialization within the University.  The workshop is also designed to provide concrete examples and best practices in technology transfer as it directly relates to laboratory researchers in their everyday roles.

Participants will obtain interesting and meaningful exposure to intellectual property, technology transfer and commercialization topics through sessions and case studies taught by OTM and individuals from the greater St. Louis commercialization community.

Example topics to be covered include:

  • An introduction to technology transfer with highlighted success stories;
  • The importance of technology transfer within the University;
  • Defining IP and vehicles for protecting IP;
  • Policies of the university that implicate technology transfer and commercialization;
  • Evaluating university discoveries for commercial potential;
  • External and intrinsic factors that affect commercialization of university technologies;
  • Commercialization of university inventions;
  • Maintaining confidentiality of unpublished research and publishing university research;
  • Navigating corporate collaborations through the use of material transfer or sponsored research.