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Letter regarding the new director of the MIT Technology Licensing Office

Lesley Millar-Nicholson succeeds Lita Nelsen as director of the MIT Technology Licensing Office.
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Lesley Millar-Nicholson
Lesley Millar-Nicholson
Photo: Darrell Hoemann Photography

The following letter was sent today to members of the faculty by Associate Provost Karen Gleason.

Dear MIT Faculty Colleagues, and Staffs in Technology Licensing Office, Industrial Liaison Program, Office of General Counsel, and Office of Sponsored Programs:

I am very pleased to announce that Lesley Millar-Nicholson will become the next director of the MIT Technology Licensing Office, effective in July. Lesley will succeed Lita Nelsen, who last fall expressed her intention to step down this spring after 30 years of service in the TLO, including 23 years as director.

Lesley is currently the director of the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where she has had responsibility for the oversight of all technology transfer activities across the university. In this position, Lesley has demonstrated leadership in all phases of the commercialization of technology and intellectual property, ranging from proof of concept programs to enable the launch of startup companies through patenting and licensing processes. She has played a major role in developing a thriving innovation ecosystem at UIUC, marked by strong corporate engagement. Beyond her university focus, Lesley has been a prominent speaker nationally and internationally on the economic importance of technology transfer.

Lesley holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Georgia, respectively, and an MBA from UIUC.

As director, Lesley will lead the MIT TLO in all aspects of its business and operations, enabling commercial investment in, and licensing of, inventions and discoveries flowing from MIT research. As she settles into her new role, I know she will be reaching out to many of you to continue the collaborative relationships that are vital to the TLO’s mission.

Lita Nelsen plans to retire from MIT in the coming weeks, and we will let you know about an occasion we will schedule, soon, in order to celebrate Lita’s contributions to the Institute. I want to again thank Lita for her many years of exceptional service to MIT. Under her leadership, the TLO has maintained a position of national prominence among centers of technology transfer.

Jack Turner, currently associate director of TLO, has kindly agreed to serve as interim director until Lesley arrives in July. I want to express my appreciation to Jack for his willingness to facilitate the TLO leadership transition.

Finally, I wish to thank the members of the search committee, which was led by Tim Swager, for their efforts in identifying the next director:

Sangeeta Bhatia (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Institute for Medical Engineering and Science)

James Freedman (Technology Licensing Office)

Bengt Holmstrom (Economics)

Dina Katabi (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)

Gregory Morgan (Office of the President)

Georgia Perakis (Sloan School of Management)

Christoph Reinhart (Architecture)

Michael Rubner (Center for Materials Science and Engineering)

Phillip Sharp (Biology)

Timothy Swager (Chemistry) Committee Chair

Jack Turner (Technology Licensing Office)

Please join me in welcoming Lesley as she begins her new role at the Institute.


Karen K. Gleason
Karen K. Gleason
Associate Provost & Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering
Room 3-240
Cambridge, MA 02139

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