The Public-Private Divide in Genomics
Auditorium, College of Law
504 East Pennsylvania Champaign
Standard justifications for government funding of academic research have emphasized the lack of incentives to pursue basic research in the private sector. But the relationship between public and private funding for research is shifting. Federal policy since 1980 has promoted patenting the results of government-sponsored research as a means of promoting technology transfer and commercial development. The results of this policy have been particularly striking in biomedical research, private funding for biomedical research has surpassed public funding, and the boundaries between research pursued in commercial firms and research pursued in government and academic laboratories have blurred. Media accounts of the "race" to complete the DNA sequence of the human genome have highlighted a competitive dimension to the relationship between publicly-funded and privately-funded research efforts that is at odds with traditional accounts of the need for public funding to compensate for inadequate private incentives to invest in research. The public sponsors of the Human Genome Project have instead stressed the importance of providing public access to research results, an interest that might also be addressed through intellectual property law. What are the proper roles of intellectual property law and public funding in mediating the public-private divide in research science?
Robert and Barbara Luciano Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School; Advisory Committee, National Institutes of Health