Jill Tarzian Sorensen, former director of the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been named associate provost and director of the Office of Licensing and Technology Development at The Johns Hopkins University.
Sorensen, who will begin work March 1, will head a 25-person office that helps faculty in the university's eight schools commercialize their discoveries and inventions.
"Jill is an outstanding person, smart, articulate and a good manager," said Theodore Poehler, the university's vice provost for research. "She's the right person to help us achieve our goal: to get our technology out into the marketplace and get it used, to move it out the door more quickly and less bureaucratically."
The university's primary motivation in technology transfer is not to make money, Poehler said. The larger purpose, he said, is to do an efficient job of putting new Johns Hopkins-developed technology — everything from vaccines and medical devices to software and robotic tools — to work for patients, consumers and society in general.
Sorensen agreed, saying that university technology transfer programs nationwide are beginning to undergo a much-needed "paradigm shift."
"I would like to be involved in leading that shift here at Johns Hopkins," she said. The new view of tech transfer, she said, must focus not necessarily on maximizing revenue but rather on "stewardship that sometimes generates money, and sometimes creates non-monetary benefits, like improving public health."
"If you judge the success of the technology transfer of a vaccine, for example, just in monetary terms, you lose sight of the benefits of vaccinating people," she said. "In fact, the majority of the benefit may be in public health."
The key to successful technology transfer, she said, is to work closely with and in the interests of both faculty inventors and the businesses that hope to take Johns Hopkins inventions into the marketplace.
"The faculty are front and center," Sorensen said. "They drive the best that the university has to offer and a quality intellectual property system works with them and for them."
Sorensen is an intellectual property lawyer with nearly 20 years of law and business experience. She has spent 18 of those years at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was assistant and then associate university counsel beginning in 1987. In 1998, she became director of technology management and assistant vice chancellor for research, reorganizing the office along a decentralized model responsive to the needs of the university's schools and faculty. In five years, her office nearly doubled the university's invention disclosures and the number of licenses it executed. The office also promoted new models of technology transfer, including leveraging intellectual property, particularly in global health, for sustainable economic development in developing countries. Last year, she assumed a new position as director of health initiatives, building international partnerships focused on global health.
Sorensen is a 1981 graduate of Northwestern University and earned her law degree in 1985 from DePaul University. She has also done graduate study in chemistry at University of Illinois at Chicago.
Note: A digital image of Jill Sorensen is available. Contact Dennis O'Shea.
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