When a medical professor makes a drug breakthrough using money
he received from a pharmaceutical company, who owns the work? The
company who funded it? The university in whose lab it was uncovered?
The doctor who made the discovery? All three?
The increasingly tangled web of industry-sponsored academic research
is leading scientists and professors of all disciplines, as well
as the universities that employ them, into situations that become
more complicated by the day.
This phenomenon and its effects on research in the 21st century
will be the focus of the sixth annual Sam Nunn Policy Forum, to
be held at Emory April 57. The forum is cosponsored by Emory,
the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.
The topic, Commercialization of the Academy, is a subject
that has interested conference organizer Donald Stein for a long
time. It grew out of a sharp increase in the 1990s of the number
of patents and copyrights, commercial ventures and new companies
developed by university faculty members across the country.
Stein, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Emergency Medicine and Neurology,
is former vice provost and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and
Sciences and also served as interim vice president of research.
He has experienced the conflicts of the subject both from the point
of view of an administrator charged with promoting policies to encourage
the raising of money through research, as well as a scientist whose
job it is to find that money.
The blurring between the academy and commercialization has
serious impacts on who we promote and tenure, what research is done
and even how we teach, Stein said. If were hiring
people based on their track record of entrepreneurialism, those
people probably wont be here because theyre necessarily
greator even goodteachers.
The forums goal is to develop a balanced set of recommendations
to help university administrators and faculty members negotiate
these new difficulties involving intellectual property.
Ironically, commercialization has become so prevalent in education
that not even the forum is immune: Its full name is The Sam
Nunn Bank of America Policy Forum. The financial institution
granted the cosponsors money to defray costs for holding the event.
Ill have to come up with something humorous to explain
Bank of America, Stein said.
More than a dozen speakers are scheduled to address attendees either
in panel discussions or forum-wide events. They include Nunn himself,
now cochair and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative
and an attorney, who will provide opening remarks along with Stein,
and several Emory administrators including President Bill Chace
and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Johns.
Robert Bazell, chief health and science correspondent for NBC News,
will give his address, Public Health Information in a Time
of Crisis, at the April 5 invitation-only dinner that kicks
off the forum.
UGA Provost Karen Holbrook will deliver her keynote speech, The
Importance of Commercialization on Tenure and Promotion Decisions,
the morning of April 6.
Participant presentations will dominate the afternoon of April
6 and panel discussions morning of April 7. They will include experts
in medicine, law, science, engineering, information technology,
government, English and American studies from around the country.
I am so honored at the level of people who have agreed to
participate in this conference. It took quite a while to get everybody
on board, said Stein, who spent a year putting the forum together.
Conference attendance is free, but registration is required. To
register, visit www.emory.edu/PROVOST/SamNunnForum
and download the proper form. Meals will be provided. For more information,
call 404-727-1155 or 1-877-727-1125.
This is the second time Emory has hosted the Nunn forum. In 1999
Emory hosted the forum titled Ethics in America. The
three Georgia universities take turns hosting the event.