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L B Ellwein, P Kroll, F Narin; Linkage between research sponsorship and patented eye-care technology.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1996;37(12):2495-2503.
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PURPOSE: To examine the linkage between the funding of ophthalmologic and related biomedical research and the development of patented eye-care technology using data on patents granted and the scientific literature cited by those patents. METHODS: The United States patents granted during the 20-year period from 1975 through 1994 were screened using patent office classifications and key words to identify all eye-care-related patents. Each patent's nonpatent references (references to literature other than previously granted patents) were examined, and those references to scientific papers then were reviewed to determine the authors' institutions and acknowledged funding sources. RESULTS: Major findings include the following: (1) Eye technology innovation has grown steadily, with a threefold increase in number of patents granted from 224 in 1975 to 662 in 1994. (2) The cited scientific base that supports this technology has grown even more rapidly, with a sixfold increase in the average number of nonpatent references, from fewer than 0.5 per patent in 1975 to more than 3.0 in 1994; as a result, the total number of nonpatent references has increased by a factor of 20, from 100 in 1975 to 2000 in 1994. (3) The National Eye Institute is the leading single institution in providing support for this research: 31% of all eye-care patents with science references cite papers that contain at least one acknowledgment to National Eye Institute (NEI) support; and when NEI is combined with the rest of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 41% of the patents with science references are linked to NIH-funded research. (4) Patent science dependence, as measured by science references, is greatest for technologies related to medical treatment, surgical instruments, and intraocular lenses; moderate for diagnostic instruments and contact lens; and least for eyeglasses. CONCLUSIONS: The NIH and other sponsored vision research is of direct and increasing relevance to the growing number of US patented eye-care technologies.
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