NIH News Release
Office of the Director, NIH

Wednesday, January 19, 2000
Contact: Marc Stern
(301) 496-2535

NIH and E.I. DuPont Sign OncoMouse® Agreement

BETHESDA, MARYLAND, January 19, 2000 — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and E.I. DuPont (DuPont) announced today that they have signed an agreement on the use of DuPont's proprietary OncoMouse® transgenic animal technology covered by the Harvard "Leder" patents. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) resolves long-standing issues of access by academics to this technology, originally developed through DuPont funding at Harvard University, and licensed exclusively to DuPont. NIH and DuPont have reached terms by which the technology can be used in research conducted by and/or supported by NIH, without compromising DuPont's ability to receive appropriate value from commercial applications of the technology. This agreement reinforces the partnership between NIH and DuPont first established over a year ago with the signing of the landmark agreement on Cre-lox technology.

The OncoMouse® transgenic animal technology relates to animal models that develop tumors as a consequence of containing a recombinant activated oncogene sequence. First described by Dr. Philip Leder, its usefulness in basic medical research is widely recognized as these mice are key model systems for the study of cancer and in testing the effectiveness of novel cancer therapeutics.

"The agreement between NIH and DuPont is yet another milestone in the cooperative relationship between academia, government and industry. This agreement will allow NIH scientists and grantees to continue to explore novel research avenues in the study of disease and in the basic underlying mechanisms that trigger it," said Ruth Kirschstein, M.D., Acting Director of NIH. "This agreement is also consistent with the newly promulgated NIH guidelines on research tools, and serves as a good example of how the principles in the guidelines can be implemented."

"DuPont deeply appreciates the importance of wide dissemination of tools for basic research and is committed to making this tool available to the academic community," said Tom Powell, Managing Director, DuPont Intellectual Assets Business. "This agreement achieves this goal while retaining our commercial rights. It is a win-win situation."

Under the MOU, DuPont will continue to provide, at no cost, the OncoMouse® transgenic animal technology to academic laboratories for research uses and will allow unencumbered use and transfer of this technology among researchers at not-for-profit institutions. The MOU imposes no limitations on scientific publications or so-called "reach-through" rights.

The MOU distinguishes between academic and commercial uses of the technology. DuPont has agreed to make the technology available at no cost to NIH researchers and grantee institutions for non-commercial purposes. Researchers affiliated with the NIH may disseminate animals covered by the Leder patents to other academic laboratories and investigators for academic research under a Material Transfer Agreement. The recipient not-for-profit institutions need an agreement with DuPont if they wish to further transfer the animals provided by the NIH. Discoveries made within the academic realm through use of this technology will not be subject to any payments to DuPont as long as the discovery is made outside of any direct benefit accruing to a commercial entity.

NIH and DuPont recognize that academic institutions may want to transfer OncoMouse® transgenic animal technology to commercial entities. Such transfer of materials requires the commercial entity to obtain a commercial research license. The full text of the agreement is available at

"Key to this agreement is the recognition that science is better served by making research tools broadly available to the academic sector. This enables scientists to carry out research for the benefit of medicine and the public," said Maria Freire, Ph.D., Director, NIH Office of Technology Transfer. "We are delighted that NIH and DuPont have demonstrated, once more, that it is possible to come to creative agreements in which the core missions of academia and industry are understood and respected."

DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions that make a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition, health care, apparel, home and construction, electronics, and transportation. Founded in 1802, the company operates in 65 countries and has 97,000 employees.

The National Institutes of Health is the Federal Government's principal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Also, the NIH is the key agency sponsoring the training of research investigators and fostering the communication of biomedical information. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, the NIH includes 18 institutes, several centers, and the National Library of Medicine.