Attorney Eric Rutt ’01 talks biotech patents at first Suter Science Seminar

Attorney Eric Rutt ’01 will give the first of the 2021 Suter Science Seminars at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) on January 27 at 4:15 p.m. His talk, titled “Can I really patent that?” will delve into the debate over what developments in biotechnology can be patented, including a 2013 case involving patents for genes that cause breast cancer. 

The sessions are free to the public, and made possible by the sponsorship of the Daniel B. Suter Endowment in Biology and the co-sponsorship of supporting programs. They will be live streamed on the EMU Facebook Page.

Rutt practices law with the firm Wolf Greenfield in Boston, which handles all aspects of intellectual property, with a focus on patent prosecution and litigation.

“The patent laws of the United States contemplate that ‘anything under the sun that is made by man’ can be patented,” Rutt said. “While laws of nature, such as E=mc2, and physical phenomena, such as newly discovered plants or minerals, are excluded, what about patenting genetically engineered organisms or genes that are discovered to cause cancer?”

Rutt graduated from EMU in 2001 with a degree in chemistry. He then worked as a laboratory technician at Merck before earning his doctorate at Boston College Law School.

The next seminar will be given by USGS National Wildlife Health Center biologist and decision analyst Katrina Alger ’08 on February 24.

Named in honor of long-time EMU biology professor, Daniel B. Suter (1920-2006), the Endowment in Biology was established in 1986 through the generous donations of alumni and friends and currently consists of over $1 million of invested funds. EMU hopes to double the Suter Endowment in order to more adequately support distinguished faculty and to increase scholarship aid to deserving students.