As the acting director of the agency, Rea oversaw the final stages of the implementation of the America Invents Act, which sought to reduce the backlog of patent applications and improve patent quality.
She also worked with the White House on steps aimed at cracking down on "patent trolls" — firms that extort settlements out of businesses with frivolous patent claims.
UPDATE at 3:24 p.m.: Rea announced in an email to agency staff that she will step down "in the near future."
"It is my anticipation that we will soon welcome a new Director who will continue guiding the excellent work of the agency. Until then, I will do everything I can to ensure a smooth transition," she wrote.