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About Crystal

Crystal Culhane, Ph.D., applies her extensive academic background in organic chemistry to the practice of patent prosecution in the areas of chemistry, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, oil and gas, food and beverage, and medical devices. Her practice focuses on U.S. and foreign patent prosecution, client counseling, due diligence, patentability and freedom to operate opinions, patent opinions, and post-grant proceedings. Known as a responsive communicator with a strong depth of knowledge, Crystal works with clients ranging from universities to start-ups to multinational organizations to prepare IP strategies that suit their business goals.

Crystal earned her doctorate in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University, where her research focused on the design, synthesis, and evaluation of novel optical and radioactive small molecule prostate cancer imaging agents. She has significant experience in various scientific disciplines, including synthetic organic chemistry, radiochemistry, biology, radiobiology, and small animal imaging.

In recent years, Crystal has worked with a number of pharmaceutical clients in high-impact patent prosecution. Her clients include a large pharmaceutical company for which she has helped develop and manage a portfolio of several hundred patent families and another which in 2021 received its first-ever FDA approval for a new drug that treats a rare liver disease.

Crystal’s many pro bono and community contributions reflect her devotion to equality and justice. She currently handles pro bono matters for Casa Cornelia, helping non-US citizens who have been the victims of violence. She is also a mentor with Crawford High School’s Academy of Law program, mentoring “at risk” students, and a volunteer with City Heights Runners, which provides tutoring and reading programs for high school athletes who are primarily immigrants and refugees. Her work with City Heights Runners is an extension of her own love of running – Crystal has completed 35+ marathons and an ultramarathon.

A leader at the firm, Crystal currently serves as co-chair of Fish’s Allyship Affinity Group and is a member of the firm’s Diversity Advisory Committee. She also leads Fish’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center Space Camp scholarship program, which seeks to engage underrepresented middle school students in STEM fields.


  • “Interactions between human glutamate carboxypeptidase II and urea-based inhibitors: structural characterization,” J. Med. Chem. 51(24):7737-43 (2008)
  • “N-[N-[(S)-1,3-Dicarboxypropyl]carbamoyl]-4-[18F]fluorobenzyl-L-cysteine, [18F]DCFBC: a new imaging probe for prostate cancer,” Clin. Cancer Res. 14(10):3036-43 (2008)
  • “Catalytic, asymmetric alpha-chlorination of acid halides,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126(13):4245-55 (2004)

Speaking Engagements

  • “Protecting your IP from Infringement with Effective Patent Prosecution and Counsel in the Life Sciences,” San Diego Office CLE Event (January 2018)
  • “Protecting your IP from Infringement with Effective Patent Prosecution and Counsel,” Association of Corporate Counsel – San Diego Chapter presentation (December 2017)
  • “Recent Flip-Flops in Intellectual Property Law,” Fish L.E.A.D. Event, Palo Alto, CA (September 2017)
  • Leaders in Law Award, Rising Star,” San Diego Business Journal (2021)
  • Named to the “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” list by The Best Lawyers in America© (2022-2023)
  • Named a “Women of Influence in Law” by the San Diego Business Journal (2021)
  • Named one of San Diego’s Top Attorneys by SD Metro Magazine (2020)
  • Named a “Woman of Influence” by San Diego Metro (2019)
  • Named one of San Diego’s Top 40 Under 40 by The Daily Transcript (2018)
  • Selected for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Pathfinder Program (2018)
  • Selected as one of the “40 Under 40” by SD Metro (2017)
Focus Areas

J.D. ​cum laude, California Western School of Law (2014) ​Member of Student Intellectual Property Law Association (SIPLA) 

Ph.D., Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University (2008)

B.S., Chemistry, University of St. Thomas (2001)

  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 2010
  • California 2014
Memberships & Affiliations

​American Chemical Society

San Diego Intellectual Property Law Association

Lawyers Club of San Diego

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