Patent protection creates opportunities


Ana Belen Iglesias Gonzalez has applied for a patent for an invention that she developed in the lab during her time as a doctoral student. Photo: private.

Hello there Ana Belen Iglesias Gonzalez, PhD student at the Department of Neuroscience, who recently filed a patent application for a new type of box for handling test tubes.

What is special about the box that you have designed?

“I think the most remarkable feature of the box is the fact that it is simple – it is a simple solution to a problem I encountered during my years of research. The need for it arose when I was incubating biological samples in test tubes using existing racks. The orientation of the tubes leads to a deterioration of the samples because they were getting stuck together and were therefore poorly incubated. As a scientist, my priority is always to be consistent and provide reproducibility during my experiments. I came up with this idea after making a lot of boxes from leftover lab materials and found an added benefit with my design: my boxes are more long-lasting and reliable than existing racks.”

Why file a patent application?

“Protecting my invention with a patent not only helps prevent copies (which might, for example, be poor quality) but also highlights my technical skills and commitment to this product. I might not be able to commercialise the box myself, so filing a patent application has not only given me the opportunity to learn from the process but, perhaps more importantly, strengthens my ability to find suitable partners who could benefit from turning my idea into a commercial product.”

You have participated in UU Innovation's mentor program, how has it helped you in developing your idea?

“In academia, especially during our PhDs, we are often so blinded by all the experiments and projects we need to finish that it is hard to step back and look at the whole of what we have developed, not just what we are doing every day. UU Innovation's mentor program helped me realise that I had many transferable skills to other disciplines and that I had designed something which could benefit from protection. In addition, all the advisors gave me the support I needed to pursue this idea from the very beginning.”

What’s in your test tubes?

“During my PhD, I focused on how distinct subpopulations of spinal interneurons operate within the locomotor network and how their activity translates information into specific locomotor outputs using zebrafish as a model. Therefore, in my test tubes, I normally have tiny zebrafish larvae!”

You are defending your thesis on December 3rd, what do you want to do next? 

“The only thing I want to do is take a break and make a smooth transition to the industry and business world.”

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Last modified: 2023-07-21