Research of the human genome has led to new methods of diagnosing and treating cancer, but has also led to patents on isolated human DNA. But can DNA be patented?

West Virginia University’s College of Law will address these and other issues surrounding new challenges to the U.S. patent system in an event entitled “Intellectual Property Issues of the 21st Century” at noon Friday, Feb. 24 in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom.

The speakers include professional, academic and industry authorities who come from various backgrounds of expertise including the WVU School of Medicine, the Villanova Law School, and Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

The panel on gene patents will be moderated by Professor Shine Tu, who teaches Patent Law, Patent Prosecution, and Genetic Property at WVU College of Law. Tu stresses the significance of this expanding field of gene, which has recently captured the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Gene patents are becoming increasingly important due to the nascent field of ‘personalized medicine,’ ” Tu said. “Personalized medicine is a new industry born from the idea that specific genetic makeups will result in different drug therapies.”

Steven H. Flynn, Esq. from Mylan Pharmecuticals, and WVU School of Medicine professor Angela Obringer, PhD, will also provide insight and varying viewpoints on what role gene patents should have in our future.

Former WVU Law Professor Michael Risch will be a panelist, and will also deliver the keynote address on the need for higher patent quality. His discussion will also include a review of some of the companies who sue to enforce patents, yet don’t ever produce the patented product.

This event is sponsored by West Virginia Intellectual Property and The Federalist Society. This event is open to the public. For more information, please visit



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CONTACT: Kristin Brumley. WVU College of Law