The University of Tennessee Research Foundation is grateful for the hard work and dedication of its employees. One valuable member of the UTRF team, Senior Staff Attorney Lakita Cavin at the UT Health Science Center Office, has left UTRF to accept a position with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) after fifteen years of outstanding contributions toward advancing UT technology. As attorney for mission related investments at ADDF, she will handle contract negotiations, negotiate funding, and provide expertise in intellectual property decisions and protection.
“Lakita brought a wealth of experience and expertise to UTRF and has been a crucial member of the organization since she joined the team,” said UTRF President Stacey Patterson. “While we are sad to see her move on, we appreciate her many contributions to UT and UTRF over the years. UTRF wishes her the very best in this next stage of her career.”
Before arriving at UTRF in 2007, Cavin spent six years in the Department of Pharmacology at UTHSC as a postdoctoral research scientist and assistant professor. She has a doctoral degree in chemistry from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Memphis.
“I got into tech transfer and realized this is a perfect fit for someone with my background,” said Cavin. “When you’re a scientist or researcher, you only get to work in your area of technical expertise. But in tech transfer, you’re seeing work from all over the scientific and technical world. That’s what I love about the field.”
Reflecting on her tenure at UTRF, Cavin is proud to have facilitated access to UTHSC technology used in the fight against COVID-19. In the 1990s, Michael Whitt, a UTHSC administrator and researcher, created a reverse genetics system that allows researchers to study highly dangerous viruses – like SARS-CoV-2 – safely. Early in the pandemic, Moderna and other organizations sought out Whitt’s technology to develop and test vaccines.
Cavin recognized the importance and time-sensitive nature of the situation, so she executed a streamlined, hybrid agreement in record time, allowing companies to quickly access Dr. Whitt’s technology and expertise as they continued their work.
“That’s definitely a highlight from my time working here,” said Cavin. “I’m proud to have done whatever was needed to facilitate those relationships and make it easy to work with UTRF and UTHSC so those companies could access the resources necessary to better fight COVID-19.”
Cavin is also proud to have fostered trust on UTHSC’s campus, thereby increasing UTRF’s disclosure numbers. For instance, when she arrived at UTRF, the organization did not have any disclosures from the College of Dentistry, so Cavin developed relationships and built rapport with researchers. Now, the College averages around five to seven a year with UTRF.
“It’s been an honor to work alongside Lakita, and I’ve enjoyed every one of the 15 years I’ve shared with her at UTRF ,” said UTRF Vice President Richard Magid. “She’s a skilled attorney and great co-worker who has done incredible work helping commercialize UT technology and supporting research at UTHSC. She will be missed around the office, and by many more people on campus.”
In leaving, Cavin will miss the people she works with and around the most. From colleagues at UTRF to others she knows across campus, she is grateful to have worked in such a supportive, positive environment.
“I’m so thankful to UTHSC and UTRF for my time here,” said Cavin. “I like to say that this is where I grew up professionally and got my start in my career. I’m proud to have worked for such an amazing organization that is doing incredible work and helping advance innovative technology and research.”