Community Spotlight: Yoko Taniguchi, Medical Applications Promoting Office at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University
We invite you to learn a little more about your colleagues in the tech transfer community. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, please let us know!
works within the Medical Applications Promoting Office at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan where she handles material transfer agreements on behalf of its researchers.
Addgene (AG) – How did you decide to pursue a career in technology transfer?
Yoko Taniguchi (YT) - Most of the members in our team, including myself, came to tech transfer serendipitously. All of us, luckily, have had great job experiences at CiRA by being exposed to the frontier of research in the life sciences. As you may know, research of iPS Cells has received a lot of attention. In addition to this, we work for a university, which means that we have a duty to society. I think that such realization—a contribution to society and sense of responsibility—encourage us to dedicate ourselves to this job.
AG - How has the tech transfer community grown in Japan these past few years?
YT - There used to be no sufficient system for dealing with tech transfer issues like material transfer agreements (MTAs) in most Japanese non-profit institutions. However, with the increase in the number of matters relating to tech transfer in the field of life science, many institutions have stipulated internal rules for tech transfer and have focused on creating the appropriate infrastructure for this field in these past few years.
AG –What do you see as the key issues for the future?
YT - The key issues for the future: A need to increase the number of people who work in tech transfer. In some institutions, it still seems that researchers, themselves, need to do paper work for contracts (such as reviewing) when they would like to transfer their materials because of a shortage of manpower in tech transfer specialists. This situation forces such researchers to spend time on paper work, which are originally not their own work, and prevents them from focusing on their research activities. Moreover, the number of matters relating to tech transfer have been rapidly increasing so enhancing the tech transfer infrastructure at each institution is urgent in order to allow scientists to spend more time for their research and dedicate themselves to it.
AG – Any advice for those entering the field or thinking about it?
YT - To draft appropriate contracts or to review proposed contracts, it is important to know the background of research, such as, what researchers aim at in their research projects, what kind of results will be generated through the project, what kind of materials are being transferred, and so on. Being interested in such backgrounds of research and trying to know its details and purpose is essential for this job. Such mindfulness also should improve our efficiency, which is necessary for us as we always have a very high workload.
AG – Are there any courses, seminars or other educational opportunities that you believe aspiring or new tech transfer professionals should consider?
YT - In Kyoto University, we often have seminars in which we can learn how to deal with MTAs, Collaboration Research Agreements and so on. I believe such seminars are absolutely useful not only for people who are new in this field but also for expert staff as the life sciences are always on the march and the situation around them is changing.
AG – What about the field of technology transfer has surprised you the most?
YT - Personally, I am always surprised at how hard the scientists in CiRA work!
AG – What do you do for fun?
YT - Relaxing with my cats (I have 3 cats.) Playing in a band with my friends (I play the drums.) Taking pictures (Outdated but I like film cameras.)
AG – What is your favorite book and why? Please no spoilers!
YT - I do not read many books, however, watching movies is my cup of tea. I recently watched the movie “The Theory of Everything” and I loved it. I was impressed with how well drawn the characters’ change of mind was presented.
* The views expressed above do not necessarily state or reflect the views of Kyoto University, the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), the Medical Applications Promoting Office in CiRA or Addgene. They were given in Ms. Yoko Taniguchi’s capacity as an individual and technology transfer professional.