Karen Deak, Ph.D., is the Director of Network Engagement for the IDEA Center. In this role, Deak is responsible for inviting Notre Dame alumni, family, and friends to share their professional expertise with the IDEA Center teams working to commercialize Notre Dame-created technologies.

Deak began her professional career at what is now the largest law firm in the world, where she was a registered Patent Agent. She assisted clients with all aspects of the patenting process, and in patents as related to business' objectives: obtaining U.S. patents for clients' inventions, particularly in the biotechnology and life sciences spaces; working on patent-related aspects of M&A deals; and assisting with patent-related strategic business advice.

The steep, on-the-job learning curve for those skill sets drew Deak to Notre Dame, where she created and was the Director of a master's program teaching the practice of patent law for five years. During that time, she additionally continued her own patent practice, helping both Notre Dame faculty inventors and outside clients obtain patent protection for their inventions.

At the IDEA Center, Deak has stepped into a crucial role that connects Notre Dame alumni, family, and friends to the projects that the IDEA Center is working with. She interacts with these network members to connect their professional experience to the questions and opportunities that our startups and spinouts are facing. The advice that the Notre Dame network is able to provide is critical to helping the IDEA Center make good, and sometimes hard, decisions about which technologies have the potential to make the biggest impact.

Deak received her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Chicago, and a B.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.