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Headquarters: Woodland, Texas Founded: 1995 Patents: 23 Business: Conducts drug-targeting research using “knocked-out” mice, which the company breeds. Also sells the mice. Lawyers in general have a poor reputation for social behavior. But Lance Ishimoto finds them much easier to deal with than scientists. “The most poorly behaved attorney is, on average, probably better [behaved] than the average scientist,” Ishimoto says. “Scientists have more ego than trial lawyers.” Ishimoto has seen life from both sides. After receiving his Ph.D. in microbiology in 1987 from the University of California at Los Angeles, Ishimoto worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Tiring of the lab, he switched to the law, receiving his law degree from Stanford University in 1994 and then laboring as a patent prosecutor at the Palo Alto, Calif., office of New York’s Pennie & Edmonds for four years. While he enjoyed working at the firm, Ishimoto jumped at the chance to join Lexicon Genetics. “My whole scientific training had been in the fields in which Lexicon is interested,” he says. As vice president of intellectual property, Ishimoto is more involved with mice than men. Lexicon has patented a method for “knocking out” a specific gene from a mouse. The company breeds the mutant mice and then studies them to understand the knocked-out gene’s function. The research is collected in an extensive database and licensed out to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. In 2000, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. took a nonexclusive license to Lexicon’s database. Under the agreement, Lexicon receives access fees and royalties on any products that Bristol-Myers develops. Lexicon has a similar agreement with the Incyte Corp. Some biotech and pharma companies want more than access to the database — they want the mice. Lexicon licenses out its mice to Amgen, the Pharmacia Corp., Wyeth, Johnson & Johnson, and other drug discovery companies. The licensees pay a subscription fee for the mice, and under some agreements Lexicon receives royalties on any products developed. Ishimoto says his role in these collaborations is to “package the intellectual property.” He and his team decide which of the other company’s projects would most benefit from Lexicon’s technology. Ishimoto then negotiates appropriate royalties. When he’s not making deals, Ishimoto oversees a staff of six in-house patent agents who do much of the company’s prosecution work. According to the company’s Web site, Lexicon has more than 500 pending applications in U.S. and foreign patent offices. Ishimoto says that because Lexicon conducts research on living animals instead of proteins synthesized in labs, the company has an edge on other biotech companies. “When it comes to real scientific discovery and relating to human genome function, Lexicon is probably outperforming the entire West Coast,” he says. “Right now, this is the place to be.”

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