Interview with Dr. Mariana Salatino, an Argentinian researcher of the Immunopathology team led by Dr. Gabriel Rabinovich at Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental (IBYME), a research institution of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)

Less than a month ago, a breakthrough of her research group - related to the treatment of refractory tumors – deserved the cover page of Cell magazine, one of the most renowned scientific publications worldwide.

In an interview with Clarke, Modet & Co. Argentina, Dr. Salatino talked about the daily work of scientists and their attitude towards patenting of their discoveries.

A current immunopathology line of research under way at the IBYME has yielded a valuable contribution to the treatment of cancer. How much thought have you given to the need to protect the IP rights related to your developments?

Scientists are usually unfamiliar with the formal aspects of intellectual property, so we are probably the least indicated to talk about them. We usually concentrate in our experiments, in the way to demonstrate a certain hypothesis or in how to obtain a desired result. Generally the concern for protecting our work by filing a patent application does not arise at all and, if it does, it is at the very end of the process. In general, we are not patent-minded.

However, as our lab quite often publishes papers with potential impact in the health industry, we have become aware of the importance of keeping control of the potential use and ownership of our developments. We have then started to familiarize ourselves with patents, through CONICET or Fundación Sales , which are the local entities that give us the possibility of patenting our discoveries.

So, whenever it is determined that the result of an investigation may have some kind of application, we are contacted by the IP advisors of CONICET and by Fundación Sales, and negotiations begin so that ownership of the inventions remains with the country, CONICET and the inventors.

Is IP awareness growing?

It certainly is, since relevant discoveries increasingly affect the scientific community in the entire world, and then it becomes more important to protect them.

Scientists have traditionally concentrated their efforts on publishing and obtaining peer approval and feedback at Conferences and Seminars. Quite often, we are so eager to publish that results are disclosed before they have been properly protected.

In my opinion, ownership of inventions should be fairly shared among all those taking part in the process: those having the operative ability to generate a tool and those that had the idea of generating it. Ideas are as important as the hands that put them into practice.

Regarding our current line of research, some patents that had been filed in the United States claiming inventions in which Dr. Rabinovich had taken part were recovered for Argentina with the intervention of Clarke, Modet & Co. Argentina...

Here is another interesting point: What happens with the inventions of Argentine scientists working in foreign countries; scientists graduated in Argentina, from free public universities, and receiving grants from CONICET to do their Ph.Ds, and those qualified and trained in Argentina who, working abroad, discover and patent their inventions abroad?