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Basic facts: Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

June 1, 2000

History: WARF was created in 1925 to protect UW–Madison biochemist Harry Steenbock’s major vitamin D discovery, a breakthrough that led to the eradication of rickets worldwide. WARF was the first such intellectual property organization for a university in the nation.

Mission: WARF manages the intellectual property of research discoveries at UW–Madison. Royalties generated from licenses to industry and from investments go toward supporting basic research at UW–Madison. Since its inception, WARF has granted more than $450 million to the university.

Famous patents: Now in its 75th year, WARF has been associated with patenting or licensing more than 3,000 UW–Madison discoveries. Its most influential patents include the blood anticoagulant Warfarin; a coating process that makes pills easy to swallow; a host of vitamin D-based treatments for osteoporosis and cancer; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques; and the “Wisconsin Solution” that prolongs the use of transplant organs.

Research support: WARF gives back anywhere from $25 million to $30 million each year to the UW–Madison Graduate School to support basic research. Special WARF grant programs have been developed to support top faculty in mid-career and for those just starting research efforts. WARF also has committed $5 million per year to the Madison Initiative.

On the Horizon: The organization currently has more than 700 patented technologies available to industry, the majority of which are in the biosciences. WARF has more than 800 current income-producing licenses or options to industry. Hot new areas include micromachines; medical technology; embryonic stem cells; nutraceuticals; computer software; and compounds that can naturally destroy pollution.

Rankings: In 1998, UW–Madison, through WARF, ranked 7th in the nation in income from royalties and licensing fees ($17.8 million), according to a survey by the Association of University Technology Managers. The same year it ranked fifth in total patents granted with 83.

WARF Web site

Biotechnology at UW–Madison

Tags: research