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Meet Mandy Wilson Decker, KYIPA Board of Advisors Chair

Mandy Wilson Decker is a Registered Patent Attorney and has been a member of the Intellectual Property & Technology Service Group at Stites & Harbison since 2002. She has a background in chemistry and experience in both academic and commercial research in the areas of biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical sciences.

Mandy has garnered numerous accolades for her contributions to the field. She has been recognized as one of the Global Top 250 Women in IP and an IP Star by Managing Intellectual Property. Her professional reputation is reflected in her AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell, and she is listed in Chambers USA. Additionally, she has been honored as one of the Best Lawyers in America and Kentucky Super Lawyers. Mandy's achievements have also been acknowledged by Business First of Louisville, where she was named among the 20 People to Know in Law, Partners in Health Care, and Forty Under 40.

In addition to her involvement with the Kentucky Intellectual Property Alliance (KYIPA), Mandy is an active member of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). She is also recognized as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Throughout her career, Mandy has actively led various initiatives within her firm and a wide range of non-profit organizations, focusing on intellectual property, access to legal services, diversity, and strategic initiatives. She lives in Louisville with her husband, Deck, and their children, Molly Kate and Ben.

KYIPA is excited to name Mandy as its inaugural Board of Advisors Chair. In this position, Mandy will lead strategic advisement of KYIPA, supporting KYIPA activities for the next year and longer term strategic planning. Learn more about Mandy in our Q&A with her below!

How long have you been working in the field of intellectual property?

I have been a practicing patent attorney since 2002, but my journey in the intellectual property (IP) field began in the early 1990s, with an opportunity to engage in research and innovation and as undergraduate.

In 1993, just before starting my freshman year of undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to work in a biochemistry and molecular biology laboratory at the University of Kentucky (UK), in the basement of the Markey Cancer Center. This opportunity was made possible by a remarkable woman who became one of my most cherished mentors. As the principal investigator of the laboratory, she secured a fellowship for me from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). This fellowship was designed to enhance diversity in the sciences and provide opportunities for underrepresented groups. I remained with this research group until 1999, transitioning to laboratories housed in the Advanced Science Technology and Commercialization Center (ASTeCC).

During my time in the laboratory, I gained hands-on experience in various aspects of scientific research, including experimental design, manuscript preparation, research grant applications, and presentations. Additionally, I was exposed to the fascinating realm of intellectual property protection and technology transfer. The laboratory frequently collaborated with the UK Intellectual Property Development Office (now known as the Office of Technology Commercialization) through Material Transfer Agreements, which facilitated collaborations with other research institutions. The technologies developed within the laboratory eventually led to licensing agreements with a biotechnology company. In 1998, I began working closely with this Kentucky-based biotech start-up and collaborated with attorneys involved in protecting the licensed and newly-developed technologies.

This early exposure to both scientific research and the intricacies of intellectual property propelled me towards a career as a patent attorney, blending my passion for science with legal expertise.

What originally piqued your interest in intellectual property?

While working with a biotechnology start-up company based in Kentucky in the late 1990s, I observed that the Life Sciences Community in the state was relatively small, and the available support resources were nearly non-existent. During that time, researchers, universities, and companies had limited options and often had to seek professional guidance from outside the state. This situation resulted in missed opportunities for individuals in Kentucky interested in life sciences intellectual property, which motivated me to take action.

In 1999, I made the decision to sit for the LSAT and enrolled in the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Law with the goal of becoming a Registered Patent Attorney specializing in the Life Sciences and practicing within Kentucky. As a law student, I actively pursued opportunities to enhance my understanding of intellectual property. I participated in the UK Intellectual Property Committee as a non-voting member, engaged in various intellectual property clerkships, contributed to the editing of a Pharmacy Law textbook, and served as a member of the Kentucky Law Journal Staff, writing an article on the topic of Pharmaceutical Patent Protection that published in the Journal in 2001.

Following my admission to the bar as a Patent Attorney, I remained dedicated to the IP community in Kentucky and have been gratified to witness its emergence and growth over the past two decades.

What types of intellectual property have you worked on?

My practice focuses on intellectual property protection strategy, including counseling clients on infringement, validity and patentability, transfer of intellectual property, patent drafting, and patent prosecution. I typically work with technologies in the life sciences field, focusing on a wide range of areas, including small molecule, nucleotide, and polypeptide compositions, drug delivery systems, screening and imaging systems, and methods and compositions for treatment of a number of conditions. Examples of such conditions include cancers, neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, substance-use disorders, atherosclerotic disease, inflammatory disorders, diabetes and metabolic disorders, microbial infections, and dermatologic conditions.

What's the most exciting part of working with intellectual property?

With an insatiable curiosity and a deep love for learning, the intellectual property field is my natural home. One of the most exciting aspects of working with intellectual property is the dynamic intersection of innovation, law, and creativity. Intellectual property provides a framework for fostering innovation. As an attorney in this field, I get to assist clients in navigating the complexities of intellectual property law and safeguarding their inventions.

What makes this journey even more fulfilling is the collaborative nature of the work. Whether it involves interacting with inventors, product commercialization teams, in-house intellectual property counsel, or foreign patent attorneys, the process of working together towards a common goal is not only gratifying but also incredibly enjoyable. Each collaborator brings their own unique ideas and tools to the table, and incorporating these diverse perspectives into the project is both enriching and rewarding.


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