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Increasingly, the conduct of pure science in the academic lab is being funded by corporations in pursuit of the next biomedical breakthrough. Although the practice of mixing academic research with corporate profit-seeking began about 20 years ago when a molecular biology professor at the University of California formed Genentech and launched the biotech revolution, the funding of academic labs has more than doubled in the past decade. According to the National Science Foundation, corporate funding of university labs was close to $2 billion in 1997. Ultimately, however, the success of the marriage will be judged on whether the union ends up hindering research efforts, as venture-backed scientists hoard lab secrets in the hope of more equity, increased stock options and bigger royalties. "There's a dark side that needs to be addressed," says an oncologist with the National Cancer Institute.
(Forbes 17 May 99)

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