Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has tapped a veteran pharmaceutical lawyer with a doctorate in biology to bolster efforts to spin scientific discoveries into commercial products and startup companies.

Charles Ryan started this month as general counsel for the world-renowned research center. He arrives from Forest Laboratories, where he spent 11 years and was a vice president and chief intellectual property counsel.

"When you look around Long Island at where cutting-edge robust research is being done, Cold Spring Harbor is without question at the top of the list," Ryan said Monday. "I really want to build on that momentum and help bring new discoveries to society."

Commercializing research has become increasingly important at laboratories nationwide as federal funding has dwindled and institutions seek new ways to generate income and broaden impact.

On Long Island, officials have long hoped that Cold Spring Harbor, Brookhaven National Laboratory, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and others would lead to a groundswell of high-tech startups to boost the economy.

So far, the effort has been slow to take hold. But Cold Spring Harbor has been among the bright spots.

The laboratory has given rise to more than 25 startups, including Long Island's biggest homegrown biotech, OSI Pharmaceuticals. But OSI no longer has a presence here. Two years ago its Japanese parent company, Astellas, shuttered the remaining OSI facilities on the Island.

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Ryan began his career at Stony Brook University, where he earned a doctorate in oral biology and pathology. He worked for two biotech startups, including The Collaborative Group LLC of Stony Brook, which was sold to Dow Chemical Co. in 2000.

He spent 11 years at Forest Labs, a Manhattan-based drugmaker with roots in Inwood that was acquired in July for $28 billion by Actavis PLC of Dublin. Ryan managed the company's seven locations on Long Island, which had 750 employees. Forest announced last fall it was moving those operations to New Jersey.