In April 1988 Harvard University was awarded a patent that was the first of its kind. U.S. Patent Number 4,736,866 was small, white, and furry, with red beady eyes. His name was OncoMouse.
The mouse, genetically engineered to have a predisposition for cancer, allowed researchers to study the disease in an intact living organism. It promised to transform cancer research, but not everyone was happy. Most critics were wary of patenting life forms at all. But academic scientists were also worried about the collision of commercial and academic science. It forced them to face difficult questions: Who should pay for science? Who does scientific knowledge belong to? And should science be for the good of the public or for profit?Credits
Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago. Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Reporter: Jessie Wright-Mendoza Photo illustration by Jay Muhlin. Additional audio production by Dan Drago.Music
Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network.Research Notes
Elizabeth Popp Berman, Associate Professor of Sociology, SUNY Albany, and author of Creating the Market University: How Academic Science Became an Economic Engine. David Einhorn, House Counsel, Jackson Laboratory. Harold Varmus, Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine. Ken Paigen, Executive Research Fellow and Professor, Jackson Laboratory.
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