From a one-room Nebraska schoolhouse to a doctorate in biochemistry from MIT and a law degree from Harvard, Dr. Janis Fraser broke many barriers on her way to becoming a top patent attorney at Fish & Richardson, the nation’s largest intellectual property (IP) law firm. Specializing in patent issues surrounding biologics and personalized medicine, Fraser helps clients obtain and defend U.S. patents for inventions such as antibodies, genes, gene therapies, cosmetics, pharmaceutical compounds and formulations, screening and treatment methods, diagnostics and transgenic animals.

Under Fraser’s leadership, a team from Fish & Richardson wrote a two-volume, 1,000-page course book on pharmaceutical and biotechnology patent law. She also co-created, and lectures at, Patent Resources Group’s advanced patent law course on Hatch-Waxman and biosimilars. Fraser has served on the Leadership Council of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT since its founding.

“I joined Fish & Richardson in the early days of the biotech revolution and have, over the last 28 years, helped shape our biotech patent practice into the amazing industry leader it is today,” Fraser says.

One of Fraser’s proudest accomplishments was obtaining worldwide patent rights covering INOmax™ inhaled nitric oxide gas, an innovative therapy for safely delivering this toxic gas to newborns suffering from “blue baby” syndrome. Since it was brought to market in 2000, the therapy has saved countless infants’ lives worldwide. In 2003, the inventors were awarded the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s “Inventor of the Year” prize.

“Set your goals to please yourself, but set them high, so you’ll always need to stretch and learn,” she advises younger professionals. “Treat mistakes as teachable moments, not as sources of guilt or blame. When the work stops being fun, change the work.” She goes on to say, “I banished guilt from my life as a ridiculous waste of mental energy. My kids are lucky to have me as a mom. My employer is lucky to have me as an employee. So there!”