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“It is very important to have an ability to pick up the technology,” says David Marsh, in what may be the understatement of life sciences practice. Needless to say, Marsh, a partner in the D.C. office of Arnold & Porter, excels at picking up the technology. From antiviral drugs to cancer treatments to antibody technology to plant breeding and genomics, Marsh’s grasp of both the law and the science makes him stand out. That’s why companies such as Amylin Pharmaceuticals, ArQule, Gilead Sciences, Monsanto, and Xenova Group have turned to him for advice. Marsh, 42, focuses primarily on intellectual property counseling and patent procurement, but his work also stretches into areas such as licensing disputes, related antitrust issues, and the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984, which established boundaries between drug-patent rights and Food and Drug Administration rules. Molly Holman, Amylin’s executive director of intellectual property, notes another critical dimension to Marsh’s advice: the business of life science. She says she relies on Marsh’s broad understanding of her company’s products and business plan. “He wants to know the big picture,” says Holman. “If he reads something in the news that could affect us, he is very proactive about helping us out. He is comprehensive. He wants to be a full-service lawyer, and it has enhanced his value to us tremendously.” Marsh helped secure patents on the two drugs that Amylin has brought to market, Symlin and Byetta, which work to control blood-sugar levels in diabetics. Like many of his peers, Marsh, who has been with Arnold & Porter for five years, studied the science before he learned the law. He earned a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the Institute of Plant Science Research in Cambridge, England, and a J.D. from the New York University School of Law. For the past eight years he has kept his hand in academia by teaching a biotechnology and patents course at Georgetown University Law Center. Mark Bosse, senior patent attorney at Gilead, sees the time spent in the classroom as a vital asset. “Having a guy with a pharmaceutical background certainly helps. But it’s rare for them to be a law professor and work at a large firm,” says Bosse. “It brings a perspective that we wouldn’t normally have access to. It would not be uncommon for me to pick up a phone and ask a law professor a question.” Or just call Marsh. Recently, the American Arbitration Association and the World Intellectual Property Organization both tapped Marsh to serve as a neutral arbitrator. It was a testament to Marsh’s standing, since the organizations query the legal community to nominate candidates. Marsh says the appointments are an honor, but it’s the chance to help his clients succeed that drives him. “It’s incredibly rewarding to help your client get a return on a worthy investment,” Marsh says.

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