Cover Story

Looking for money in all the right places.
From the computer center to the medical school,
officials and faculty are searching for funds.

By David Schrieberg

Forget the millennium. For Stanford, the world changed at midnight on Dec. 2, 1997.

At that moment, the university lost its exclusive patent for recombinant DNA, the 1973 discovery that launched the biotech industry. But this was more than a mere invention. It was Stanford's 800-pound gorilla, drawing $200 million-plus in royalties, split with the University of California-San Franciscohink of it this way: When Stanford's 17-year patent expired last month, revenues at the nation's second top royalty-earning school plunged from a record $50 million to about $15 million, the lowest level in nearly a decade. Stanford officials, peering over the edge, call it "The Cliff." Worse still, the DNA patent is non-renewable. Replacing it has become a kind of holy mission.

Enter the matchmakers. All over the Farm, from the computer music center to the medical school, from the engineering departments to the library, officials and faculty are engaged in an intense search for new money. While they have set their sights on corporate checkbooks, this is about more than money. At a time when corporate America is back on top of the world, Stanford wants to re-invent the traditional marriage of commerce and research. Even as they pursue commercial suitors who offer a hefty dowry, officials are deliberately opening up the university to industry ideas like never before.

Signs of romance are everywhere: At a high-profile press conference, university officials tout a new consumer product marketed by a Japanese corporation and based on Stanford discoveries. Stanford representatives canvass corporate CEOs for project ideas - and the money to entice faculty into making them happen. A presidential committee establishes a novel office

The Search for Money (Plain text)

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 Stanford Observed
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 The Search for Money
 Phyllis Gardner