Experienced Leadership at the Helm

For 33 years, Anne Di Sante, associate director of MSU Technologies, has been immersed in the field of technology transfer — putting research to use to create impact.

Di Sante and her team of five technology managers help manage MSU’s invention caseload, from the screening process to the patenting to the introduction into the market through a license with a company.

Di Sante has overseen the licensing and commercialization operations and programs since 2012 at MSU Technologies, which is housed under the MSU Innovation Center.

“My first priority when I came to MSU was to hire a strong experienced associate director with extensive licensing experience, especially in the life sciences,” said Rich Chylla, Executive Director of MSU Technologies. “I couldn’t have found a better professional.”

Di Sante likes to say she got into technology transfer “by word of mouth.” She recalls talking to a classmate about her science background, and another classmate overheard and said he knew of a job opening that would fit Di Sante’s background and interests.

“That was with the tech transfer office at the University of Michigan, and my tech transfer career started that day,” Di Sante said.

Michigan State University is the fourth university in Di Sante’s career. She began at the University of Michigan, then went on to Wayne State University and Case Western Reserve University.

“A lot has changed in the tech transfer profession since I began” Di Sante explained. “Faculty used to view interaction with industry skeptically. Now faculty are more entrepreneurial and interested in how our office can help advance their research to create impact for the public.”

“You never know what is going to be on the other side of a meeting, a phone call or an email,” Di Sante said. “Faculty can surprise me every day with the fabulous technologies they develop. The quality of technologies disclosed to us has really benefited from the collaborations with other labs inside and outside the university.”

Di Sante is most proud of her involvement in the protection and successful commercial launch of FluMist while at the University of Michigan. However, nothing has surpassed the excitement she felt the day Francis Collins, then a professor at the University of Michigan, told her that they had successfully mapped the cystic fibrosis gene. These were early days in realizing the potential of therapeutics based on gene therapy. Di Sante smiled and said, “I still get goose bumps when I think of that day.”

Di Sante has an MBA in marketing, an M.S. in microbiology/immunology, and a B.S. in medical technology, all from the University of Michigan.

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