From the Lab to the Law: My journey to IP, from an OTT intern

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Rae Hunter, PhD

My life journey to this point has been anything but traditional. While some might call my path “circuitous,” I would argue my experiences helped me develop a multitude of transferable skills.

I decided in my last two years of my undergraduate education at Georgia State University (Go Panthers!) to pursue becoming a medical doctor. During this time, I was also interested in applying for “Teach for America” as I had a passion to be a part of educational equity in our society. I was accepted as a corps member and taught eighth grade science for four years – a  whole two additional years beyond my required time. It was during this experience that I realized I wanted to be part of discovering cancer therapeutics that could save countless lives. I applied for PhD programs and received an offer at my first choice: Emory University.

During my PhD in the cancer biology program, I was fortunate to be selected as a recipient of a NRSA F31 Fellowship. After receiving this grant, I decided to pursue postdoctoral positions because I had the desire remain academia and become a professor. I was able to secure several opportunities.

Then, the pandemic happened.

The world came to a halt. During this time, like many others, I was able to reflect on what was important to me in life. I also had the chance to talk with an amazing career coach, Ariela Freedman, who encouraged me to explore other opportunities post-PhD. The following year, I saw an email regarding the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) internship at Emory. I decided to apply for the program. I had previously taken an entrepreneurship course in STEM, and I enjoyed incorporating business strategy and practices that were applicable in my PhD trajectory and in life in general. I saw this internship as another opportunity to learn about new, novel biotechnology innovations and aspects of patent law.

I was fortunate to serve as an OTT intern for the 2021-2022 academic year. I remember attending the introductory bootcamp, where I attended a series of presentations that covered commercialization evaluation reports, relevant databases, and basic patent law concepts. I was excited to start my rotations with the licensing professionals in the office. Each person had their own wealth of knowledge, and I learned a great deal from everyone. I also learnt about the creative, innovative technologies occurring on Emory’s campus outside of my research area. I worked on the initial commercialization reports, exploring the need each technology met in our society, market forecast, and current literature related to the proposed invention. I also had the chance to work with the marketing team, which involved writing briefs that cover the technologies in digestible manner. Based on my experiences as an OTT intern, I decided to explore career options in technology transfer and intellectual property law.

Without a doubt, I can credit my OTT internship as a reason for why I was able to receive several interviews and job offers. In addition to my STEM background, learning various aspects of the technology transfer process made me a competitive candidate. My hard work and dedication as an intern resulted in securing a position as a Technical Specialist at one of the top IP law firms in the nation. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve as an OTT intern and thankful to the great staff who both taught and supported me during this time. My winding road of wanting to pursue medicine, teaching, and cancer research, ending as an IP professional has been worth it, and I am excited for the road ahead.

– Rae Hunter, PhD

Are you a grad student, postdoc or professional student interested in the intersection of science, law, and business at Emory University? OTT’s intern program could be for you! Learn more and apply here.