Features

Jennifer Burdman – Valo Health LLC

Keeping pace by protecting IP

Jennifer Burdman is no stranger to high-stakes patent litigation. Representing LifeNet Health in 2014 she won a tissue graft patent case when a jury awarded the company $34.7 million in damages.

After that, she was on a trial team in 2011 that secured a jury verdict of $919 million in favor of DuPont against a foreign company that misappropriated more than 100 trade secrets relating to Kevlar fiber technology. Also in 2011, she represented the University of California and secured an additional $32 million in potential licensing income and cleared an inventor of defrauding the licensee.

Jennifer Burdman-Valo Health LLC

Jennifer Burdman | Vice President, Head of Intellectual Property | Valo Health LLC

Ready to advance her career, she joined the newly launched Valo Health in March. Based in Boston and started by Flagship Pioneering—which also created Moderna Health, maker of a COVID-19 vaccine—the company anticipates transforming drug discovery and development through artificial intelligence, data and life science expertise.

“I am incredibly excited to be joining Valo,” says Burdman, its new vice president and first head of IP.

Battle-tested

The  hyper-competitive world of biotech isn’t for the faint of heart, says Burdman, who grew the fledgling IP portfolio of PolarityTE and helped the business navigate a short-seller attack. Not only did the challenge reveal her litigation chops, she says, it demonstrated her “ability to guide a company through the often tumultuous world of biotech start-up.”

She continues: “IP portfolio development takes time. Patent prosecution is a multi-year investment. That timeline can seem arduous when there is pressure to show IP value to investors.”

That’s more reason to educate investors on the patenting process and the language used in patent prosecution, Burdman says. To do that, she used skills she developed as a trial lawyer to put it into language all could understand.

“Many people think that you file for a patent and your invention is immediately protected, but it is not that simple,” says Burdman. “That’s where I come in.”

Burdman’s ready to dive into legal work in an area of innovation where IP protection is still developing, with many of the rules being debated and developed as technology continues to advance.

Using its Opal Computational Platform—which uses AI to access, analyze and process research information—the company is creating medications for some of the world’s deadliest conditions, including cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease.

“AI technologies and the resulting innovations are being developed at an incredibly rapid pace and they don’t always fit into the traditional mold of how the patent statute has been interpreted,” she says. “We have to find ways to protect those innovations both in the legal framework that exists today, and in what it might be in the future.”

From paralegal to partner

Determining how to use the legal process to protect scientific breakthroughs would have been inconceivable to Burdman in college. While she gravitated to science as a student, she never wanted to be a doctor—much less a lawyer.

“Coming out of college with a science background, I didn’t know IP law was a possible career path,” Burdman recalls. “I’d never thought about being a lawyer, but I pursued science because it was interesting—and then I had to get a job.”

After earning a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Dartmouth College in 1998, she landed a job as a paralegal at the IP boutique firm of Cooper & Dunham LLP. In her work, Burdman had opportunities to work with inventors, executives and scientists in many of her cases, enjoying a front row seat to the research and development teams.

It was at Cooper & Dunham that she was first exposed to IP portfolio development. She was mentored by John P. White, who introduced her to patent prosecution, guided her toward becoming a patent agent and encouraged her to consider law school.

“I will forever be grateful for his mentorship. He showed me a career path that I had not been previously exposed to,” says Burdman. “I’ve now come full circle in my career—working on IP strategy and portfolio development of biotech startups from the inside.”

Jennifer Burdman-Valo Health LLC

After earning her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 2003, she landed her first job as an attorney at Greenberg Traurig LLP in New York. In 2005, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she spent nine years at Crowell & Moring, an international firm representing Fortune 500 clients before becoming partner at King & Spalding in 2015.

“As a trial lawyer I had to be able to translate science and the story of invention to people who may not have a background in science or patent law.  When I entered the world of biotech startups, I realized that this same skill served me well when connecting with investors and others outside of the legal department,” she says.

Achievement and accolades

When she joined PolarityTE as chief IP officer in 2017, Burdman’s work in IP quickly evolved. Although the company’s portfolio was in the early stages of development, with only a few patent applications filed, in under four years she was able to procure two U.S. and eight international patents.

Burdman is also committed to helping women participate in the industry by working with organizations like ChIPs—a nonprofit advancing women in technology, law and policy—and The Fourth Floor, which helps women join board and access investors. Last year she was named to the Top 25 Women Leaders in Biotechnology of 2020 by The Healthcare Technology Report.

What keeps her going, she says, is the impact she can make.

“The contributions the innovations are making to science and to society are so important. It’s a privilege to play a role in protecting them,” says Burdman.

Published on: May 20, 2021

regions:

categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.

LATEST EDITION

Summer II 2021

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.