Public Policy and Research Support
Transgenic Crops: An Introduction and Resource Guide, from Colorado State University
Our discussion of the op-ed piece "Biotech and the Watchdog Role of Universities" by Fred Bookstein generated a great deal of discussion within our Science in Society Seminar held last Tuesday. Briefly, this op-ed piece (described below in Part 1) warns against the changes Bookstein sees in his own academic institution in response to a shift in the role of the life sciences to creating proprietary craft knowledge. Dr. Bookstein wrote this piece in response to the lack of discussion around the creation of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan to speed up the application of biotech research entering the market place.
Our discussion went on from there. We discussed issues of profit-making by faculty and whether profiting through research was any different than writing a textbook or writing software. We discussed how patents could influence what we could, or could not, use in the lab or in writing software and we discussed how research secrets had changed scientific meetings. I shared anecdotes of young faculty who felt that their bid for tenure was tied to being entrepreneurial. I also introduced the idea that government sponsored research had a great influence over how research was being conducted at universities. We also started to evaluate our own use of industrial money to support summer research projects. Although the discussion resulting from Booksteins piece had most relevance to the life sciences, faculty from our Chemistry and Computer Sciences departments felt that there were parallels in their own fields to be explored.
Besides Booksteins op-ed piece, we explored the recent announcement, on September 10, 2001, that eleven major medical journals had created new publication rules for drug trials (see Part 2, below). I described how this editorial policy change was related to the Nancy Olivieri case in Toronto. This, of course, led to a discussion of legally binding agreements between faculty and industry as well as ownership of data.
Suggested Reading: Watchdogs of Biotech are in the Universities
From The News Journal (Wilmington DE), August 3, 2001; re-run from the Washington Post, July 30, 2001 originally entitled: "Biotech and the Watchdog Role of Universities"
This article is an opinion editorial written by Fred Bookstein, a distinguished senior research scientist at University of Michigans Institute of Gerontology.
"Fred Bookstein is a statistician and methodologist whose work spans the natural and social sciences."
Why did Bookstein write this?
"I wrote for the Post after becoming frustrated with my inability as a senior researcher to incite a useful discussion of the corresponding matters here on my campus. Decisions about our own massive investments in this area seemed to have been made corporately, without faculty involvement, and public discussions by those who shared my views were just that discussions by those who shared my views, without any serious engagement of attention on the part of the other side, the moniedside. It seemed to me that the only remaining choice was to sidestep the academic domain of governance and raise the issue in the larger civil forum." from E-mail to Xenia Morin, Sept. 17, 2001
Main Points of the Op-Ed Piece:
1. The role of the university is changing
Recent Changes in Editorial Practices at Eleven Major Journals announced September 10, 2001:
The Case of Nancy Olivieri versus Apotex
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