ERIC Number: ED316170
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988-Oct-24
Reference Count: N/A
Still a Bad Idea. A Critique of Harvard University's Medical Science Partners Proposal. A Harvard Watch Report.
Weissman, Robert; Bourke, Jaron
In 1988, Harvard University unveiled plans for Medical Science Partners (MSP), a venture capital fund intended to invest in and commercialize faculty biomedical projects. Critical of what is perceived as a "15 year long trend" wherein Harvard has "forged deeper and more extensive ties with the biomedical industry," the document asserts that MSP will give Harvard a role and interest in the marketing of its faculty's research plus a vested interest in the health of the biomedical industry. Most of the fund will be for facilitating patenting, federal approval, commercial development, and marketing, with little monies going into laboratory research. Unlike the Ptashne case of 1980 squelched by President Bok as an "improper relationship," the MSP plan does not give Harvard equity in companies that result from its faculty's research. However, the authors argue against the MSP as currently conceived, addressing issues of structure; investors and investments; and patents, licenses, and profits. Six recommendations are proffered: the university must directly address the issues raised by the Ptashne case before embracing the MSP; the university must demonstrate the value and worthiness of the arrangement on its own terms; Harvard must demonstrate that any research project taken on by MSP falls into the development gap; the internal documents of the Academic Review Committee and Board of Directors of ION, Inc. should be made public; restructure the MSP proposal so it receives none of the partnership's profits; and no MSP funds should be invested in non-Harvard ventures. (JC)
Descriptors: Biomedicine, Business, Capitalism, Corporate Support, Economic Opportunities, Entrepreneurship, Higher Education, Institutional Advancement, Marketing, Medical Research, School Business Relationship, Technology Transfer
Harvard Watch, Mather House 153, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 ($5.00).
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Harvard Watch, Cambridge, MA.