By Donna Parker
Sitting in Professor Nancy Mills’ organic chemistry class at Trinity University, patent attorney Sara Vinarov ’92 recalls the professor's unique teaching style, “Dr. Mills would on occasion bring her baby to Thursday afternoon review sessions in a baby backpack. This made her a lot more human and taught us that it was possible to balance a career and a family.”
That family-friendly lesson, coupled with a host of solid, challenging courses in writing, science, and other disciplines at Trinity, forged what seem to be the ideal profession and lifestyle for Sara. In addition to her position as a patent attorney at one of Wisconsin’s largest law firms, Sara has two children and is active in the community. She blends it all well as shown in recent events for the Madison Opera, where she is a board member. Her law firm sponsors outdoor performances by the Madison Opera and even her seven-year-old son gets in on the fundraising action by selling glow sticks at the summer events.
Sara is an Intellectual Property attorney, who specializes in biotechnology patent law. She credits her Trinity experience, and Dr. Michael Doyle for introducing her to the patent world.
"Dr. Doyle, a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, was instrumental in the direction of my career and in helping me reach key milestones. He was an excellent mentor," she says.
“Dr. Doyle gave me encouragement to go onto graduate school and alerted me to summer internship opportunities. His advice and contacts were invaluable in helping me secure my internship at Procter & Gamble’s cardio-metabolic division in 1992 before going on to graduate school in Biochemistry.” Sara, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and her law degree from Marquette University, again worked at The Procter & Gamble Co. in 1999, this time in their pharmaceutical/healthcare patent division prior to joining Quarles & Brady LLP.
She says that one of her prized accomplishments as an attorney was being invited to speak at the National Academy of Sciences in 2004. She considers it a significant honor to have been able to share her legal expertise with the nation’s policy makers in the area of patenting structural genomics and proteomics.
With a promising patent law career well under way, Sara also apparently holds a patent on successfully combining family and career. When asked about her greatest achievements, her answer is a direct and unequivocal, “My kids!” She insists on teaching her kids to appreciate their heritage and the diversity in the world around them. Sara is Persian, and her husband is Russian. She says, “We are a multicultural/international family, and I teach my kids to be good citizens, do the best that they can at whatever they are doing and to think globally.”