LES Member Spotlight: Michele E. Gunness, Ph.D., CLP
Friday, March 8, 2019
As a university technology transfer professional with a background in scientific research, Dr. Michele Gunness has a unique perspective on how the academic, business, and government sectors can work together for mutual advantage. Good communication and a clear understanding of each other's interests are key.
By Meredith Holmes
Dr. Michele Gunness is Senior Technology Development Manager in the Office of Technology Transfer and Business Development at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. She is responsible for technology licensing in orthopedics and surgery, patient care and hospital, and hearing and speech. Dr. Gunness has been with Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)—the state's only academic health center—for more than 17 years.
As a member of the technology development and licensing team, she evaluates new invention disclosures, identifies commercial opportunities, and negotiates license agreements. She has served the office in a variety of roles—negotiating industry research agreements, federal and post-licensing compliance, royalty distributions, out-licensing technologies, and nurturing relationships with university creators and inventors. "My job is never boring," Dr. Gunness declares. "My portfolio includes a wide range of technologies, since we serve not only the academic side of the university, but also OHSU's more than 16,000 employees!"
Before joining the Office of Technology Transfer and Business Development, Dr. Gunness was an assistant professor of at the University of Connecticut Health Center, a research scientist at the VA Portland Health Care system, and assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at OHSU. She earned an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire and a Ph.D. in biobehavioral sciences with a focus on biological anthropology from the University of Connecticut. While working on her Ph.D., she received a National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship for research in endocrinology and metabolic bone disease, especially osteoporosis, at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
An LES member since 2006, Dr. Gunness says, "My involvement in a leadership role with LES goes back to my time as Chapter Chair of the Oregon/SW Washington Chapter around 2008." She earned her Certified Licensing Professional (CLP) certification from LES in November 2014. She is currently co-chair (with Adrian Cyhan) of the Industry-University-Government Interface (IUGI) committee, a position that makes the most of her long and varied professional experience. Her top priority for the coming year is increasing membership recruitment and retention. Her long-term vision for IUGI is to leverage the collective expertise of its members for positive interactions with other sectors of LES. Dr. Gunness is also a member of the 2019 LES Annual Meeting planning committee, which is focused on creating networking events (both virtual and actual) for Annual Meeting participants. Dr. Gunness' professional involvement is not confined to LES; she is also a member of the Association of University Technology Managers and the Oregon Bioscience Association.
Reflecting on the distinct perspective that a university-based licensing professional brings to the table, Dr. Gunness says, "A person coming from a technology transfer office, whether it be academic or government, offers an alternative viewpoint when it comes to licensing terms and language: it is not the same as business to business interactions. For instance, there may be restrictions due to state or federal law or internal policies that may not be easily negotiated and should be clearly articulated at the outset." As her LES projects around membership, networking, and engagement attest, Dr. Gunness is committed to working across disciplines and economic sectors. She adds, "Communicating these differences can be a challenge but also an opportunity to convey our perspective and to understand the opposite position. University technology transfer professionals also offer insights into new and exciting, but very early, innovations, access to researchers, and opportunities to network and forge relationships."
Dr. Gunness' great leisure-time passion is outdoor activities—especially skiing. She says, "When I first moved to Oregon and discovered there was summer skiing, I thought I was in heaven! It took a few years to get the idea of summer skiing out of my system and move on to other things. I live very close to Mt. Hood and all that it has to offer. I count myself very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the United States with outdoor activities so close by."
When she's not skiing with friends or members of her ski club, Dr. Gunness enjoys golfing and hiking. Occasionally she stays inside and sews, reads, or entertains her cat.