Commentary| Volume 61, ISSUE 7, P629-633, July 2008

“Experimental” institutional models for corporate funding of academic research: Unknown effects on the research enterprise

  • Lisa Bero
    Corresponding author. Tel.: 415-476-1067; fax: 415-502-0792.
    University of California, Clinical Pharmacy and Health Policy, 3333 California Street, Suite 420, San Francisco, CA, USA
    Search for articles by this author
      Corporate funding for academic research has been increasing across all fields of clinical medicine and science [
      • Krimsky S.
      Science in the private interest.
      ]. Formal, explicitly defined institutional relationships between an academic unit (e.g., department, center, organized research unit) and a corporate research sponsor range from corporate sponsorship of the entire academic unit to a ban on corporate funding. Academic units that allow individual faculty to receive corporate research sponsorship, but have no formal relationships with a sponsor at the level of the unit can be considered “traditional” departments. Examples of formal institutional relationships between universities and corporate funders include:
      • Corporate funded department (e.g., Novartis funding of University of California Berkeley Department of Plant and Microbial Biology)[
        • Macilwain C.
        Berkeley teams up with Novartis in $50m plant genomics deal.
      • Corporate funded academic research center (e.g., Harvard Center for Risk Analysis)
      • Research center with a mix of corporate funding and government funding (e.g., California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research [QB3]). The California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) is a cooperative effort between the state of California, the University of California campuses at Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, and industry and venture capital partners (
      • Funding mechanisms that require collaboration with industry (e.g., The Office of Technology administers the Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer [STTR] Program.)
      • University-based start-up companies (e.g., nonpublicly traded companies focused on developing a few products)
      • Total bans on acceptance of research funding (e.g., Harvard University School of Public Health tobacco industry funding ban)
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