This is part of an ongoing series of profiles of faculty members who have recently achieved tenure. These profiles are intended to provide illustrations of how some faculty reach that goal.
There are those who believe the key to success is a laser-like focus on a single field of endeavor. These people have never met Chris Holman.
Holman, recently promoted to Professor in the School of Law, started his career as a scientist, earning a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Davis. Working as a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry, he became fascinated with the enormous impact of patent and intellectual property law on the industry, and on the science of biochemistry and biotechnology. He decided to pursue a law degree.
Today, Holman is one of the most respected – and sought-after – experts in the country on the application of patent and intellectual property law to biology. He has served as Chair of the Biotechnology in the Courts Subcommittee of the American Intellectual Property Law Association; and Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association Special Committee on Bioinformatics. He was a featured speaker at 16 conferences in 2012 alone, including national conferences of both the AIPLA and the ABA, and symposia at Stanford, George Washington University, and two universities in Taiwan: National Chengchi University and Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica. His blog, Holman’s Biotech IP Blog, is one of the most widely read in the field; and he remains a prolific scholar, having authored 29 published articles since joining the UMKC faculty in 2005.
In between all that, he also found time to be the lead author of amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in three cases of national significance in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Holman is also regarded as a first-rate teacher. The law school announcement of his promotion cited his use of “creative teaching methods to show students the contemporary relevance of intellectual property law while effectively confronting them with the larger policy issues. He advises many students doing their capstone projects in the intellectual property law area and provides rigorous oversight of their work.”
The evolving field of biological intellectual property still captivates him to this day.
“It is still an area where everyone is trying to figure out what the rules are,” Holman said. “It’s exciting to get involved in helping to shape the law.”
The value of patents is a matter of fierce debate right now, particularly in the field of computer software. “There’s quite a debate as to whether the costs outweigh the benefits when it comes to software, but not too many serious people question that in the life sciences,” he said.