By Gayathri Raghupathy | Doctoral candidate in Biology at CUNY Hunter College
Edited by Tessa Barrett
I have to say that I am quite lucky to catch someone who commutes roughly 83 miles a day, NYC—Westchester—NJ—NYC!! I immensely thank Roshni Ghosh for generously sitting down with me at my favorite coffee place for a good 2 hours.
Roshni received her PhD in Developmental Genetics from St. Johns University, NY and is currently a patent agent at Regeneron while also working towards her JD at Seton Hall University.
What motivated you to look outside bench work?
A whole bunch of failed experiments! I started attending events and conferences to learn about career options that did not deal with bench work.
How did you get interested in patent law?
The first time I heard about patenting was at a NYAS (New York Academy of Sciences) event. I learnt how scientific skillsets could be transferred to the field of patenting, and that you are still connected to science in a way.
How did you pursue your interest in patent law?
To get a better understanding of the field, I searched for an internship opportunity in patent office and technology transfer office at my University. I also made a list of patent agents with a science background in the NYC region and sent out cold-emails. In fact, some of them replied and I connected with them for informational interviews.
Did you enroll in any courses or internships to learn more about patent law?
In the last year of my PhD, I enrolled in a certificate program in intellectual property (IP) at NYU. I also landed an internship opportunity at a technology transfer office in Albany. Yes, I was juggling between wrapping up experiments, writing my thesis, a manuscript, IP coursework and internship.
Tell us about how you managed to undertake an internship and wrap up your PhD studies.
My first internship was at a technology transfer office in Albany, NY. I was able to work remotely from NYC on a case for a client who wanted to license and market a product. I identified a product best suited to their need, identified the assignee of the patent and negotiated the license of the patent while working with a cross functional team. I also did an internship at the NY Blood Center, identifying potential licensees for their technologies. Overall, as a voracious reader, I had fun reading and digging information related to that project on patent websites. That was when I realized that this was a career path that I would really enjoy!
When did you start applying for full time jobs?
Towards the completion of my PhD program, I started searching positions with the patent field, and that’s when I came across a Regeneron job posting for a patent agent with a background in science. In preparation for the interview at Regeneron, I set up mock interviews with mentors from my internship. Some of the important aspects that they stressed were how to negotiate compensation and how to ask good questions during the interview.
What was your interview experience at Regeneron like?
Most of the questions asked were about my internship experiences and my coursework at NYU. I remember one of the interviewers asking me, “are you sure that you want to do this?” a question that I was asking myself for quite sometime was now being asked aloud by someone else. As an assertion to my own inner voice, I confidently said, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do’, and now there has been no looking back…..
Explain what you do at Regeneron as a patent agent.
I wear several hats within the patent ‘world’; broadly divided into patent research, surveillance, drafting new patent applications and inventor interviews, all which require a lot of paper work! I also perform competitive intelligence for new molecular targets. For instance, if our R&D team was interested in pursuing a new cancer target, I would research the current patent landscape to find out which companies currently hold patents in the field and their patent portfolio. The research aspect of my work keeps me touch with the trending science.
Tell us about the patent department at Regeneron.
When I joined the patent team there were 8 members, in the last year we’ve expanded to more than 20. Almost all the agents at Regeneron have a PhD and post-doctoral experience.
What is it about the patenting field that excites you?
During my PhD, I realized I didn’t enjoy bench work; however I loved reading articles, identifying problems and designing solutions. As a patent agent I am able to transfer those skillsets and interests to my cases. I’m an introvert, I love reading, and I can sit for hours in front of the computer. But at the same time, to break my routine, I get to conduct interviews and communicate my findings to my team. As a patent agent at Regeneron, I have front row seats to see some cutting edge science and technology.
What is your next big move?
Recently, I passed the patent bar exam but I couldn’t stop there, so I’ve enrolled to law school (Seton Hall University of Law, NJ) to get my law degree. While you don’t necessarily need a law degree to get into patenting, in the future I’d like to become a patent attorney. So, I’m back juggling between work, law school and of course the long commute….
What is your advice for our readers who want to pursue patenting?
-Enroll in courses related to patenting (courses-NYU SCPS, WIPO, certificate programs)
-Search for internships at technology transfer offices (talk to someone at your University technology transfer office)
- Set up informational interviews with those in patent roles
-Register for relevant events/conferences