Clinical Center News
Fall 2018

Technology Transfer Office facilitates innovation

20 advances from Clinical Center researchers have moved from concept to action since 2010
Three prediction and probability maps from prostate cancer researchers
The Clinical Center's Office of Technology Transfer has helped researcher's patent novel medical treatments and technologies. This is a sample image from a computer-aided diagnostic tool developed and patented for use by Clinical Center researchers in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for diagnosing prostate cancer. The caption associated with this image, that appeared in the Journal of Medical Imaging, says "Fig. 1 AlexNet patches generation and VOIs contours prediction. (a) Patches along normal line, (b) probability map, and (c) final contour from probability map." Image courtesy Dr. Ronald Summers.


The NIH Clinical Center has been at the forefront of innovation since it opened its doors in 1953. But how do those innovations go from concept in the lab or bedside to application in care throughout the world?

The Clinical Center's Office of Technology Transfer works with researchers and clinicians to help identify new biological molecules, processes and pathways, novel medical treatments or technologies and innovative applications of existing medical knowledge so these improvements can be brought to the public.

Technology transfer can help researchers to patent an innovation or link them with others who might want to pay them to use their invention or scientific advancement.

The office also connects researchers at NIH with researchers in industry, at non-profits and universities to share samples, data and innovations through materials transfer and cooperative research agreements. This benefits Clinical Center staff by opening up opportunities to collaborate with people they might not otherwise have the chance to work with.

David Saeger, a technology development coordinator at the Clinical Center, the head of the Clinical Center's Office of Technology Transfer, noted that whenever an employee discovers something new or has a new technique that they'd like assessed for patent protection, the hospital assesses if the discovery has been made previously or if it's novel enough to be a new innovation. If there have been prior discoveries that are very similar, then the idea isn't eligible for a patent.

"We help connect researchers or someone who has discovered something new with the outside bodies that want to learn about it," said Saeger. "The point of the program is to help research happen at the Clinical Center which can help clinical care and ultimately all patients."

What should a Clinical Center employee do if he or she has made an important discovery or has a great idea? "Call or email me!" emphasized Saeger. He is the resource who can help get the ball rolling and guide people through the process.

"Even if there's a company that you do research with and there's a novel product that you'd like to use in research here, we can help facilitate that," noted Saeger.

The main NIH Office of Technology Transfer, to which the institutes and centers report to, has identified 20 innovations that originated in the Clinical Center since 2010. Recent innovations facilitated through the tech transfer office are the development of precision automated computer-aided diagnostics for a wide range of diseases; using ultrasound based biopsy imaging that is comparable to, or complimentary to MRI imaging; and computer-aided diagnostics in multiparametric MRI to improve image detail and prostate cancer detection rates compared to standard MRI.

To explore how the tech transfer office can help Clinical Center staff, contact David Saeger at or 301.451.9023. Read more about the NIH's Office of Technology Transfer Office. Register for the NIH Learning Management System online training course on technology transfer at and search for "technology transfer." The training is approximately 30 minutes long.

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