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John T. Preston, director of MIT's Technology Licensing Office (TLO) since 1986, has been named director of technology development, a new position in the office of the vice president for research.
Lita L. Nelsen, associate TLO director since 1986, has been named director.
The promotions, effective December 1, were announced by Professor J. David Litster, vice president and dean for research.
"In 1986, MIT made a fundamental change in the mechanism by which it moves its technology to society through the marketplace," Professor Litster said. "The name of the office was changed-from the Patent, Copyright and Licensing Office to the Technology Licensing Office-to reflect a new focus on function, rather than on the instruments used in carrying out that function.
"The TLO has enjoyed great success. MIT, over the last several years, has consistently led the nation's universities in the number of technologies patented and the number of licenses isued. We do this to transfer intellectual property to American companies, rather than to make money. However, last year the TLO provided enough resources to the Institute to establish three endowed professorships," Professor Litster said.
This administrative change, Professor Litster said, reflects the evolution of the operations of the TLO. While maintaining his interest in the function of the TLO, Mr. Preston devotes major efforts to seeking appropriate commercial outlets for innovations flowing from the work of MIT researchers.
Ms. Nelsen, accordingly, will have responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the office, which has a staff of 20, and will continue to focus on license agreements and start-up efforts.
Mr. Preston holds the BS in physics from the University of Wisconsin (1972) and a master of management degree from Northwestern University (1976).
Ms. Nelsen holds the SB (1964) and SM (1966) in chemical engineering from MIT and the Sloan Fellows SM (1979) from the Sloan School.
Both Mr. Preston and Ms. Nelsen have significant experience with industry and product development. He was an MIT Industrial Liaison Officer from 1977 to 1983 when he left MIT to co-found Visual Communications Network, Inc., which pioneered personal computer graphics software. She was president from 1984-86 of University Seminar Center of Boston, developer of professional development seminars, and before that was vice president-operations at Applied Biotechnology, Inc.
A version of this article appeared in the December 9, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 16).