dai reesDedicated technology transfer in the UK's Medical Research Council began in the late 1980s, when its Chief Executive  Sir Dai Rees hired Dr. Chris Hentschel away from Celltech to set up the ‘MRC Collaborative Centre’ (MRC CC) next to the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) at Mill Hill in North London.  MRC CC was incorporated as an operationally and financially independent laboratory-based technology transfer Centre with strong links with a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.  It was in fact a forerunner of today's product-development partnerships or PDPs.

MRC CC worked closely with the MRC’s commercial liaison office that later evolved into the ‘Technology Transfer Group’ (TTG), which was involved in complementary office-based patenting and licensing. Dr. Hentschel's leadership was informed by both policy advice and product collaboration and licensing opportunities stemming from the original members of the Ulysses Group, Davis Farmer and Jerry Balter.  The solid operational and financial success led to a number of significant NCE and monoclonal antibody based products being developed, and this prompted MRC to invest in a second Collaborative Centre in Edinburgh based on the Mill Hill model.  The scale of the antibody products successes can be judged by the fact that MRC has earned about a billion dollars in royalties in significant part from this original work.  An interesting coincidence for the UAG partners is that some of the underlying scientific rationale for antibodies being potential therapeutics was done in the late 1960s by none other that Raphael Levey while he worked at NIMR in the laboratory of its director, Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar!  

Dr. Hetnschel led MRC CC for a decade and after he left, its success prompted MRC to merge it with the operations and staff of TTG and the Scottish collaborative centre, which were renamed Medical Research Council Technology (MRCT).  This created what is now one of the world's premier life-sciences technology transfer companies, MRC Technology.