Howard Bremer, one of the founders of Modern Technology Transfer at University of Wisconsin and a prestigious alumnus at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, died late last week.
After graduating from UW, Bremer devoted time to the WARF for 53 years, which provides patent and license services to commercialize university technologies, Kevin Walters, the historian in residence at WARF, said.
Some of Bremer’s most influential work was a patent for Vitamin D derivative technology and the Bayh-Dole Act, Janet Kelly, senior editor at the WARF said. Bremer worked very hard to license a technology that was developed by UW biochemist Hector DeLuca that provided people with vitamin D deficiencies therapies to improve absorption, she said.
“He actually licensed the technology to a company in Japan, which [was] quite unusual for a university to be reaching out to international business like that,” Kelly said.
The revenue earned from the Vitamin D licensing was among one of the most substantial works that have ever been licensed and helped put UW on the map, Kelly said. Bremer helped bring medication discovery to the world that helped improve health.
Bremer created the Bayh-Dole Law, which influenced technology transfer not only at UW but also throughout the country, Kelly said. The Bayh-Dole Legislation, which was passed in 1980, allowed universities to create patents and licenses for research that was funded by the federal government, she said.
It is important for universities to get patents and licenses because it allows them to commercialize their research, use it around the world and bring back revenues that can be returned to research universities, Kelly said. Bremer’s work allowed UW to bring revenue back to the university and continue to bring valuable discovery to the market, she said.
Before the legislation, universities had a difficult time patenting and advancing their research because the government was funding it, Walters said. The legislation helped universities take control of their research, he said.
Kelly said she would like to continue the success Bremer created through patenting to protect technologies and ensure that there are licenses to be used and to generate revenue.
“I will continue to ensure the Bayh-Dole Legislation remains active and strong,” Kelly said. “We will certainly want to continue that tradition.”
Bremer was a public servant, Walters said, who helped professors understand that WARF could help them and could benefit their research by first creating a public market and raising money for their work. For Bremer, it was not just about making money or promoting individual interests, it was about serving the public, he said.