Glaxo gift will reopen property debate

May 19, 1995

A new laboratory at Bradford University funded by pharmaceutical giant Glaxo has reopened the debate over ownership of intellectual property rights in joint ventures between academics and industry.

Glaxo has given Bradford Pounds 1.25 million over five years for research into a pioneering technique in supercritical fluids developed by PhD student Mazen Hanna.

Sir Mark Richmond, director of Wellcome Research and Development and former vice chancellor of Manchester University, said the joint venture could form a blueprint for similar collaborative programmes at other universities.

But he warned that despite enthusiasm from the pharmaceutical industry for working with universities in exploiting new technologies, their efforts were under threat because of misguided Government policy.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England's directive on generic research suggests that universities should own their own intellectual property rights. But Sir Mark stressed that patents were the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry.

It cost Pounds 150 million to bring a new drug to market, he said, and it was therefore crucial that property rights were retained by companies in the first instance. If this could not be secured then firms could be forced to seek overseas partners.

In the deal struck with Bradford, Glaxo has patented the technology and then reassigned the intellectual property back to the university to enable academics there to fully exploit its potential. This is because the technology is not part of Glaxo's core business. Glaxo will continue to make an intellectual input to the project but the university is free to approach other pharmaceutical companies to attract support. So far two firms have committed funding.

Mr Hanna, whose PhD thesis has just been submitted for examination, was originally funded by a Pounds 15,000 per year Glaxo studentship in 1992. His new technique, called Solution Enhanced Dispersion by Supercritical fluids, has important health and environmental implications since it allows drugs to be produced more precisely and with significantly fewer impurities. The technique could have applications for polymers and ceramics as well as pharmaceuticals.

* Glaxo has also given Pounds 1 million to Strathclyde University to fund research posts for young academics who will help advances in drug discovery.

The Glaxo-Jack research lecturerships honour Sir David Jack, former Glaxo Group research director and a Strathclyde graduate who was associated with Glaxo's work on new asthma treatments.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman