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Bridging law and health

ASU alum bridges law and health to speed up medical development.
March 10, 2016

ASU alumnus helps forge partnership between ASU Law, Barrow Neurological Institute to help medical development

Last year Steven G. Lisa had to suffer through seeing his father battle brain cancer.

But the patent attorney and Arizona State University law alum (JD ’84) was so impressed by the care his father received at the Barrow Neurological Institute that Lisa was compelled to unite the worlds of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU and Barrow Neurological Institute, which is part of Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

ASU Law alum Steven Lisa

Lisa (pictured at left) did so by underwriting innovation grants for the Institute’s neurosurgery residents. Of the three inaugural grants awarded, one has led to the creation of the Barrow Neuro-Innovation Center, which is now working hand-in-hand with ASU Law’s Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic to get new medical devices or techniques approved faster so they can help more people get through medical emergencies.

The Innovation Center, which features a 3-D printer for rapid prototyping, allows residents at Barrow to vet and develop innovations in surgical tools or techniques that would be useful in the field of neurosurgery. Providing initial legal evaluations for these innovations is the job of students in the law clinic as they work with Barrow neurosurgery residents from the early phases of development and prototyping to protecting their ideas by drafting provisional patent applications.

“It’s the students who are doing all the initial legal work for the Barrow group,” said Lisa, a patent-enforcement specialist whose law firm, Steven G. Lisa Ltd., has offices in Chicago and Scottsdale, Arizona. “I was very excited when our program with Barrow led to the creation of the Innovation Center, and it was a natural match to work together with the Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic. The Barrow group benefits because the residents receive instant feedback from our brightest students here at the law school. The students are excited because they are working with some of the smartest and most innovative neurosurgeons in the world — so it’s a clear win-win.”

Dr. Michael Bohl, a neurosurgery resident at Barrow, explained that the institute has a long history of being a leader in medical and surgical device innovation. However, the increasingly complex device development and patenting process threatens to curb that innovation.

“By collaborating with the Lisa Foundation and the ASU Patent Law Clinic, we have essentially eliminated those barriers,” Bohl said. “The Barrow Neuro-Innovation Center makes it possible for a neurosurgery resident to have a new idea, create a prototype, and begin working with the Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic on patentability and marketability within days."

The law clinic was founded in 2009 and over the years has received grants of $200,000 from the Lisa Family Foundation. Recently, the Lisa Foundation provided another $250,000 grant to continue the clinic’s work. Lisa also has served during this time as an adjunct professor at the law school, teaching a class on patent enforcement.

The clinic is open to patent-bar eligible ASU Law JD students, as well as to Master of Legal Studies – Patent Practice and patent-bar eligible Master of Laws (LLM) students because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office requires only a science or engineering degree, not a law degree, to sit for the patent bar exam and become licensed to draft and file patent applications on behalf of clients.

Students in the Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic are under the supervision of licensed patent attorneys and receive hands-on experience in real-world patent prosecution, as well as the skills needed to recognize and obtain valuable and enforceable patents for clients that may later be successfully licensed or litigated. 

Michelle Gross, director of the Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic and a Professor of Practice at ASU Law, said the students, along with herself or Lisa, meet once a month with the doctors and residents at Barrow. There, the residents present their ideas and the students gather data, answer questions, provide feedback and guide them through the patent process.

“A central purpose behind the relationship between the Barrow Neuro-Innovation Center and the Patent Clinic is to streamline the interaction between the innovation and patenting processes to relieve the burden on the Barrow group’s in-house Intellectual Property Office while ensuring that patent applications are drafted early and often in the development process to capture the valuable innovations of the residents,” Gross said.

Once the students draft the provisional patent applications, the Intellectual Property Office for Dignity Health, the parent company of St. Joseph’s, decides which projects will be forwarded for non-provisional patent applications that will be filed by their outside counsel.

Ken Ralston had made taking part in the Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic a goal when he started law school. Now in his second year, Ralston said working in the clinic and with Barrow has provided a trove of valuable experience.

“Working through the entire process brings a new experience at each step,” Ralston said. “This practical knowledge gained from handling a case at early stages has taught me the value of working closely with clients to best prepare an application. Having access to clients with such high technical knowledge and working with them on their inventions is a great opportunity that most law students do not have while in law school.”

For more information, contact Michelle Gross.

Director of Communications , Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


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Flag officer council calls for security act reform

ASU military advisory council calls for changes to National Security Act
Whole-of-government ideas needed to solve international problems — ASU council
March 10, 2016

ASU board of active duty and retired generals and admirals argues for changes in National Security Council

WASHINGTON — Former Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, an Arizona State University alumna, led the initial air campaign when the United States intervened in Libya in 2011. She also watched later as that country deteriorated into chaos.

The problem, she said: No clear national strategy.

"We took the tactical tasks that we were given and we asked for more strategic guidance but that wasn't really forthcoming," Woodward said Thursday. "In the absence of that, the military will always fill in the gap. So we did what we needed to do."

Woodward and fellow members of ASU’s Flag Officer Advisory Council propose modernizing the National Security Act of 1947 to shift the nation away from turning to the military to solve all crises, a proposal they highlighted at Thursday’s Future of War Conference, in Washington, D.C., organized by ASU and New America.

The council urges reforming the National Security Council, situated in the executive branch, and empowering it to act as a quarterback would organize the muscle of a $4 trillion government, an army of nonprofits, the brainpower of universities, the engine of the private sector and networks of state and local governments that are now left untapped or underutilized in crises. The National Security Council needs the authority to weave in organizations to create a strategic, whole-of-government approach to help the nation better deal with future challenges, such as Libya, the council argues.

The Flag Officer Advisory Council, consisting of active duty and retired generals and admirals from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, advises ASU President Michal Crow on national issues. They captured their concept in a proposal released Thursday.

They call for exercising three key concepts: strategic vision, whole-of-government solutions and whole-of-society solutions.

“In our paper we are calling for a return to strategic vision and getting back to articulating strategic end states by the National Command Authority,” said former Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, special advisor for leadership initiatives to the ASU president and Flag Officer Advisory Council member. “We need to drive our country back to thinking about strategic vision and develop from our society strategic thinkers.”

An example of building strategic thinkers is ASU’s newly established Public Service Academy, where students learn cross-sector skills and are exposed to the possibilities of careers in public service, he said.

The U.S. has great diplomatic, military, informational  and economic capabilities, said Freakley.  But to be effective in solving the nation’s toughest challenges, these functions must be coordinated.

“You could argue, that since Operations Desert Shield, Desert StormOperation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm were two phases of what is commonly called the Gulf War, in 1990 and 1991. The first laid the groundwork for military operations to oust the forces of then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. The second was the combat phase itself. , we have not used all elements of our power in a coherent fashion to achieve a strategy,” said Freakley, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006. “We have not kept political pressure, or economic pressure, or even informational pressure on our adversaries.”

A photograph of Anne-Marie Slaugther, president of New America, addressing the Future of War Conference

Anne-Marie Slaughter
New America’s president
and chief executive officer,
gives opening remarks
during the Future of War

Jerry Gonzalez/ASU Now

Despite the fact that the U.S. created social media, this medium is being used far better by Russian President Vladimir Putin and head of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said Freakley.

“How much does it take for a message to be released by the United States Government as a tweet?” he asked. “A lot.”

But the call to revise the National Security Act is not about creating more bureaucracy. Rather, it’s about making the National Security Council, created by the act, more effective, according to the flag council. The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 “compelled” the military services to work together and provides an example of positive change.

The key is to have legislation and an administration that rewrites the act and reworks the NSC into a “light, fast moving, strategic organization” that provides strategic policy options to the president who then coordinates those options to fruition, said Freakley.

Freakley argues that Afghanistan is another example where lack of overarching strategy undermined efforts, as civil agencies did not know how to apply aid power in concert with military and strategic objectives.

“Our diplomacy did not keep pressure on the region,” said Freakley. “So we’re calling a return to whole-of-government solutions, a return to reaching out to our societies, getting like-minded universities like Arizona State into the fight.”

Freakley acknowledged that this is not a new concept and there have been calls to modernize the NSC in the past. But the timing is right to reinvigorate the effort.

Woodward agreed.

“We want to raise the discourse,” Woodward said. “We want to raise the level of understanding about the importance of strategic vision and that whole-of-government piece. It’s not something we’re going to achieve overnight just because we say it needs to be done, but we do think we need to talk at a higher level and we really need to think in the long-term. Rather than be reactive we need to be proactive.”

The Future of War Conference is part of an initiative linking New America, a nonpartisan research public policy institute and civic enterprise, and ASU through its Center on the Future of War. In its second iteration, the conference brought together experts to address a variety of issues and challenges stemming from the changing nature of conflict and war.

“New America’s focus is big ideas,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, New America’s president and chief executive officer. “We are looking down the road. … Where will we be in five years, ten years, fifteen years and what do we do now to prepare for that?”

Speakers during this year’s conference included Army Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein and a variety of experts discussing Syria, cyberwarfare, war reporting, special operations and other topics.

Top Photo: Former Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward,  ASU Flag Officer Advisory Council member, speaks about the challenges she faced while commanding Air Force forces during U.S. military involvement to enforce U.N. resolutions in Libya in 2011.  Also pictured, from left to right, are Flag Officer Council members retired Air Force  Lt. Gen. Vern “Rusty” Findley, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle,Jr., and retired Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley.  Photo by: Jerry Gonzalez/ASU Now

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications