Wyden explains his position

Rep. Ron Wyden has announced plans to introduce legislation significantly modifying the relationships between federal laboratories, research institutions and the private companies involved in commercializing innovations. Wyden chaired hearings two weeks ago on prices of drugs developed through federal-private sector collaboration and has spearheaded a congressional inquiry into technology transfer practices by the NIH.

The Oregon Democrat told BioCentury he plans to unveil new technology transfer legislation this week. He sat down with BioCentury Washington Contributing Editor Steve Usdin for an exclusive interview on Friday. Following are highlights of his comments.

BC: Where is your inquiry into federal technology transfer going?

WYDEN: I think under the leadership of President Clinton and Al Gore you will see a very different approach to tech transfer and I think it will focus on a couple of things. One, I think there will be an effort to make technology transfer a much higher priority at the federal labs; there will be much more accountability, much more freedom to pursue it.

We are going to see goals set. I have urged, and I think there is a chance it will be enacted, that in the debate over the future of the labs ... one of the new standards for labs' performance will be technology transfer, which will be a new approach and a dramatic shift.

BC: What do you think should be the first goal or priority of technology transfer - commercialization of products? Or the expansion of U.S. industry? Or something else?