Yale, Firm Sign Contract, May Gain From Research
Yale University concluded an agreement with a chemical manufacturer last week for a $1.1 million joint research program in biotechnology, which the president of Yale called an "excellent example of industry university cooperation because it is very protective of academic freedom.
Under the terms of the agreement Celanese Corporation will be able to file for patents under Yale's name if any inventions result from the research the chemical company will get exclusive licensing rights for these patent and give Yale two percent of gross sales as royalties. Joseph S. Warner Yale's director of grant and contract administration said yesterday.
Proposals for joint industry university research have aroused controversy on campuses across the nation in the last few years. Many professors fear that investment such as the new $100 million Whitehead Institute at MIT will jeopardize research by making potential profit more important than basic science.
Such fears helped to lead Harvard to refuse shares in a bioengineering corporation founded by Mark S Ptashne a Harvard professor of Biochemistry Nevertheless Harvard has a $2.3 million contract for joint research with Monsanto Corporation and President Bok will attend a conference in March to consider guidelines for such research.
The Celanese Corporation will give Yale the money over the next three years for basic research on "the structure and function of enzymes and the genes that govern their formation," Walter D. Littell '55, Yale's director of university information said yesterday.
To encourage joint research between Yale and private industry. Yale is establishing a new Office of Cooperative Research "Yale will constantly seek appropriate partnerships with the private sector." A Bartlett Gramatt president of Yale said in a press release last week.
The grant will support four young researchers to pursue work of their own choice. I. Nicholas Ornston '51, professor of biology at Yale and director of the project said yesterday. He added that the researchers will meet every month to discuss the broad implications of their findings and that a representative from the Celanese Research Company would join these meetings.
"Neither a charitable grant nor a business venture," the program will have no specific commercial application. Laurence I. Peterson vice president of Celanese Research said yesterday. Ornston said research at Yale will focus on fundamental questions about the genetic basis of the breakdown of chemical compounds by microbes rather than specific applications of these processes.
Researchers will send drafts of their papers to Celanese Research which will have a month to consider whether any discoveries might lead to patents. The chemical company can then delay publication for 15 more days while it prepares patent applications.
Ornston said this provision should not threaten academic freedom because Celanese cannot prevent final publication. He added "proprietary research done under specific contract to a corporation shouldn't be done in the university," but added that the Celanese Yale project was very different. "I'm happiest not being distracted by the profit motive."