Having earned anundergraduatedegree in physicsengineering atUniversidadIberoamericana inMexico City, Alejandro Covalinbegan hisprofessional lifeworking as a new projects engineerin the forestry industry in hisnative Mexico. Atfirst, he found thework bothchallenging and satisfying. But after overseeingthe design and construction of a new sawmillfacility, Covalin recalls that he felt the need tomove on.“I wanted to go back to school,” hesays. “I applied to various schools and betweenBerkley, CWRU and UCLA, I was most excitedby what UCLA had to offer; basically, I likedtheir approach and the freedom I would haveto choose my thesis subject; I accepted andstarted working on my PhD in neuroengineer-ing.”Covalin came to UCLA in 2000 and,under the guidance of Associate Professor Jack Judy, he quickly focused on the study of feedback mechanisms in the autonomicnervous system. It was something of a leapfrom pure engineering and machinery designto the anatomy of the nervous system, Covalinadmits, but his background in physics andengineering ultimately served him well.“There is a lot of physics involved inhow the nervous system works. Having beentrained as an engineer, I had to retrain myself tolearn and think differently in order to force my mind to blur the boundaries between engineer-ing and neurosciences, which in itself is neuro-engineering.” Advised by UCLA NeurosurgeonProfessor Antonio De Salles on viableapplications of his knowledge to clinically relevant issues, Covalin ultimately turned hisattention to the problem of obesity and the rolethe autonomous nervous system plays indetermining metabolic rates. He found thatthere is in fact a region in the brain thatcontrols metabolic activity, and that by introducing an electric current, it is possible toregulate metabolic rate.Having successfully demonstrated thetechnology on rats, Covalin and Judy, togetherwith Los Angeles-based entrepreneur LeonEkchian, a UCLA graduate with an MBA fromthe Anderson School, and UCLA neurosurgeon Antonio De Salles founded NeuroSigma, Inc. in2008. NeuroSigma exclusively licensed thepatent application from UCLA, is currently ULCA Alums both, Lindsay Keeverand Brian Shedd both found their way toOIP and are the office’s Technology Transfer Associates, positions for scientists to breakinto the Technology Transfer career. As Tech Transfer Associates, theirrole is to evaluate the patentability andpotential commercial applications of inventions, plan marketing and patentingstrategies, and assist PIs in findingcommercial partners to help bring theirtechnologies to market to benefit society and the economy.Having received an MS in Biochemistry andMolecular Biology, Lindsay was drawn to “the business side of science” and found herself at OIP working daily with PIs and theirgroundbreaking technology. Brian recently earned a Ph.D. inMechanical Engineering from UCLA and, after a marketinginternship with OIP, found a fulltime position working with“advanced technology and business” wherehe could “walk the line between the twoarenas”. For both, this interest in the duality of their positions allows them to successfully work with potential corporate partners forUCLA technologies as well as formsuccessful relationships with UCLA faculty and students.Though working with different areas of scientific expertise, both agree that UCLA’sfaculty bring exciting developments to theforefront and the enjoyment of their jobscomes from helping to find ways to progressthe development of these technologies intopotential commercial products. In helping to build bridges withthe external corporate community, Brian says we “would like toknow what other ways faculty and students would like to be ableto interact with that community”. For these Bruins, it is therelationships developed at UCLA that allow them to be sosuccessful at their jobs.
Meet the Staff—Technology Transfer Associates
Coming Soon:Online MTA Form
A new feature formaterial transfer requests,“
MTA” will be a centralsite for submitting all requestsfor Material Transfer Agreements through a new,convenient web-basedform. The
MTA site willalso allow investigators to trackthe status of their pending andcompleted MTA requestssubmitted after July 1, 2009.To facilitate thetransition to this new MTArequest process, training forthe new
MTA portal isbeing made available. Faculty,research staff, lab managers,and administrative staff arewelcome to join the MTA teamfor a training session on thenew system. The class will beheld on December 3rd, 2:00-3:00 p.m. in the Ronald ReganMedical Center, Room 3-3102.
For further questions,or to RSVP for this trainingevent, please contact the MTAteam atUCLAMTA@research.ucla.edu.
Student Inventor Spotlight: Alejandro CovalinMind over Matter
“Covalin” Continued on Page 4
Volume 2, Issue 1 Alejandro Covalin
Lindsay Keever Brian Shedd