Private Assets, Public Mission: Life Science, Technology Transfer and the New American University

1 Oct 2012
12:00 pm - 1:45 pm

Philip Selznick Seminar Room

Event Type
Non-CSTMS Event

David Winickoff
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

The rise of biotechnology, in concert with the Bayh-Dole Act, greatly intensified the practice of university technology transfer in which academic institutions take ownership of federally funded discoveries and license them as private assets. Biotechnology transfer has become a site through which law, life sciences, and the idea of the “entrepreneurial university” are coevolving. Particular licensing controversies demonstrate how that process has been uneven and contested, and how the contractual terms, both legal and social, of the “social contract for science” are deeply ambiguous. Diverse publics have proposed different legal and ethical duties for the university in this context, from protecting the moral economies of science against the intrusion of markets, to promoting global access to medicines, to strengthening American industry. Centering on particular biotechnological objects like transgenic mice, stem cells and pharmaceutical targets, these controversies evince fundamental disagreements about the obligations of the research university in its new role as an investor of knowledge capital. Responding to these currents, universities have been forced to develop new forms of public accountability that may enable both democratic engagement and a richer distributive politics within the American innovation system.

For the full paper, please see the Law Department’s event page.

This event is sponsored by: Center for the Study of Law and Society

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