Campus News

OVPR announcesTechnology Commercialization Office appointments

OVPR announces Technology Commercialization Office appointments

Athens, Ga. — David Lee, University of Georgia vice president for research, has announced two appointments in the Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) in the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Rob Fincher, director of TCO since 2001, was appointed director of plant technology commercialization earlier this month following the retirement of John Ingle. Sohail Malik, previously manager of intellectual property and technology commercialization, will become director of TCO beginning June 1.

Margaret Wagner Dahl, director of Business and Economic Development, will serve as interim director of TCO.

“We are very fortunate to have two individuals with extensive research and industry experience who will further strengthen UGA’s program of technology commercialization,” said Lee. “Rob and Sohail are stepping into these roles at the time when we are looking to build on the considerable successes we have had with plant cultivars and develop greater alliances between UGA biotechnology research and industry.”

Fincher earned his bachelor’s degree in 1977 and master’s degree in 1979 in plant and soil science from the University of Tennessee. He received his doctorate in crop breeding and genetics from University of Missouri in 1982.

He came to UGA in 2001 as director of TCO following 18 years in plant breeding research and technology transfer at Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, the world’s largest seed company and a major plant biotechnology research organization. At Pioneer, he was responsible for breeding the first commercial corn hybrid with a biotechnology-developed trait. Fincher directed a research group that supported plant breeders with biotechnology tools at Pioneer. Also at Pioneer, he negotiated research agreements and commercial licenses, primarily with public sector entities.

Under Fincher’s direction, TCO invention disclosures increased from 53 in 2002 to 112 in 2006, and license income increased from $3.8 million in 2002 to $15.1 million in 2006. The University of Georgia ranked 24th among 150 U.S. public and private universities in the 2005 annual survey by the Association of University Technology Managers.

Malik received a bachelor’s degree in 1981, a master’s degree in organic chemistry in 1982 and his doctorate in natural products/medicinal chemistry in 1985 from the University of Karachi, Pakistan. He did post-doctoral research in medicinal chemistry at Stanford University with renowned scientist Carl Djerassi (best known for his contribution in the development of first oral contraceptive pill) from 1986-88.

Malik’s multifaceted experience in the life sciences area ranges from academic institutions to industry and entrepreneurial leadership. As a faculty member at the University of Washington in Seattle, he held a joint appointment, first as instructor (1988-89) and then as assistant professor, in the departments of laboratory medicine and medicine (1989-96). He gradually moved into research management, technology commercialization and entrepreneurial leadership. He co-founded a life sciences company, BioFrontiers, Inc., focused on anti-inflammatories, analgesics and skin conditions, and he has worked for a Fortune 500 company, promoting corporate new business and technology. He has more than 40 research publications in peer-reviewed journals and is a patentee in the life sciences. Malik is also on the editorial board of two prominent life sciences journals, Current Medicinal Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry.

As manager of intellectual property and technology commercialization at UGA since 2004, Malik has provided leadership in evaluating and commercializing university discoveries, facilitating startups and negotiating license, equity and option agreements and establishing relationships with industry. His focus on life sciences discoveries has strengthened university-industry relationships.