UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization appoints two new staff experts

The University of Hawai`i (UH) is pleased to announce the appointments of Sandra Fujiyama as innovation and business development officer, and Rafael Gacel-Sinclair as technology transfer specialist in the Office of Innovation and Commercialization and the Office of Technology Transfer, respectively.

Sandra Fujiyama

In her new role, Fujiyama, an intellectual property attorney, will be responsible for leading UH’s innovation and entrepreneurship efforts, including strengthening ties with community stakeholders.  She will be conducting technology and marketing assessments of inventions; manage, market and protect UH’s IP portfolio; and help to secure federal funding for the development of UH-based inventions.

Most recently, Fujiyama worked for Dentons U.S. LLP (formerly Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing) in Honolulu, with clients in the local technology and startup market. Prior to returning to Hawai‘i, Fujiyama spent nearly 15 years specializing in intellectual property law in Los Angeles, where she prosecuted patent and trademark applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, litigated intellectual property matters (patent/trademark/copyright), and provided intellectual property strategy and counseling to a range of clients, including startups.  Her work involved a range of technologies, including pharmaceuticals, monoclonal antibodies, stem cells, computer hardware and software, and smartphone technology.

Fujiyama was a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP and also worked for Lyon & Lyon LLP and Monteleone & McCrory, a commercial and business litigation firm with a national reputation in the construction industry.  While in LA, Fujiyama was also involved in a number of organizations, including serving on the boards of the California Bar Foundation, the Japanese American Bar Association Educational Foundation, and the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance.  She was recognized by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association as a “Best Lawyer Under 40.”

A graduate of Punahou School, Fujiyama received her BS with honors in biochemistry from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and was a recipient of the Ethel Terry McCoy Award, recognizing women for excellence in biochemistry.  She received her JD from the UCLA School of Law.

Rafael Gacel-Sinclair

At UH, Gacel-Sinclair will lead reviews of Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) related to the acquisition and ownership of various university developed proprietary research materials and technology by industry. He will also be managing UH’s patenting process and will be responsible for managing a portion of UH’s technology portfolio, including the solicitation and evaluation of invention disclosures.

Prior to joining UH, Gacel-Sinclair served 19-years at the Davis campus of the University of California (UC Davis) in the technology transfer office as a technology transfer analyst, intellectual property officer and associate director.   He has drafted, reviewed, negotiated and/or executed over 10,000 MTAs, NDAs and licenses in human and veterinary medicine, life sciences, plant sciences, physical sciences and computer technology.  Gacel-Sinclair has enabled UC Davis to obtain over $20 million in program income and licensing revenue from proprietary research materials, confidential information, and intellectual property.  He has advised and taught faculty, staff and students, and published and presented, on transferring and licensing proprietary research materials, confidential information, and intellectual property.

Previously, Gacel-Sinclair served as an administrative analyst at UC Berkeley from 1998 to 2000, and as deputy director of financial management for the U.S. Capitol Police from 1996 to 1998.  He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an engineer equipment operator and financial management officer from 1976 to 1996.

Gacel-Sinclair received his MS in information systems from the Naval Postgraduate School, MBA from National University and BS in civil engineering from the University of Washington.

“We are very fortunate to have landed two individuals with such extensive knowledge, experience and expertise to join our tech transfer team at UH,” said David Ai, director of the Office of Innovation and Commercialization.  “Sandra’s specialty in bio/pharma patent law will be additional asset to our office in the management of certain inventions and Rafael’s extensive experience in university tech transfer activities will help to enhance our current methods and procedures.”


About the Office of Innovation and Commercialization/Office of Technology Transfer

The Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC) is responsible for the management of intellectual property and technology assets developed at the University of Hawai‘i and the transfer of new technology for broader public use through its commercial partners. A major component of Office of Innovation and Commercialization is the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), which assists faculty, staff and student researchers to identify and protect their discoveries and inventions, and to foster commercial investment that will turn University of Hawai‘i research into new products and services to improve public health and welfare. By seeking to create closer relationships with entrepreneurs, businesses and investors, OTT works to increase opportunities for the development and utilization of new technologies created through research and scholarship.

About UH Research

Research conducted by the University of Hawai‘i (UH) impacts the quality of life in the islands and around the world. As the state’s major research university, and because of Hawai‘i’s tremendous geographic diversity, UH plays a prominent role in the state’s economic growth and development through its diverse and world-renowned research programs in astronomy, earth and ocean sciences, medicine and tropical agriculture.

About the Hawai`i Innovation Initiative

The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the private sector and government to build a thriving research enterprise in Hawai‘i that will develop a third major economic sector for the state, create high-quality living-wage jobs, and address the challenges and opportunities that face our communities and the world to improve our quality of life.