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Careers in Clinical Research: Obstacles and Opportunities
generally have not had the resources for or the experience of transforming novel research discoveries into marketable products. Thus, academic institutions have licensed these patents to industry to develop them into products.
Some institutions have had nonprofit affiliates for some time such as the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation formed at the University of Wisconsin in 1925 and the MIT Development Corporation founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 to facilitate the transfer of technology. Others have created for-profit buffer corporations to develop real and intellectual property on behalf of the institution. For example, the Dome Corporation was established by the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System with a cadre of professional technology transfer managers, many of whom thrive on the compensation arrangements of the private sector, to facilitate technology transfer. The Dome Corporation, in turn, created another for-profit corporation, Triad Investors, to provide venture capital for start-up companies. Although the latter does not have more access to faculty than other venture capital firms, and is free to work with nonacademic personnel, these firms allow an avenue for commercial development by faculty (Blake, 1994).
The committee believes that patenting and licensing will continue to play an increasing role in academic institutions, and faculty need to be apprised of the process. For example, the growing area of biological therapies derived from investigator-initiated research such as genetically engineered proteins and peptides might lead to a novel therapy for a disease with a low incidence rate or may not have significant commercial interest at the outset. Not unlike the provisions for developing orphan drugs in the private sector, such findings might not capture the interest of industry if the market is small and the potential for an adequate return on investment is marginal. Thus, academic institutions may be placed in the position of working through their own buffer corporations to bring these therapies to market themselves. In fact, a new therapy developed by University of California researchers for systemic lupus erythematosus is, for various reasons, being brought to market by the institution.
PREVALENCE OF ACADEMIC-INDUSTRY RELATIONSHIPS
According to Blumenthal (1992), information on the prevalence and outcomes of academic-industry relationships in the health sciences is outdated. However, it is useful to recap results of earlier studies to gain an appreciation of the involvement of faculty and students in these relationships. In 1985 a survey by the Harvard Project on University-Industry Relationships of 800 faculty at 40 of the top 50 U.S. universities involved in biotechnology research revealed that 47 percent provided consultant services to industry, 23 percent participated as principal investigators on at least one industry funded project, and 8 percent owned equity in a privately traded company that marketed products that were