The Recombinant University

Doogab Yi

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2015 | ISBN: 9780226143835
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780226216119 | DOI:
The Recombinant University

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  • History of Science and Technology


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This book examines the history of biotechnology when it was new, especially when it was synonymous with recombinant DNA technology. I focus on the academic community in the San Francisco Bay Area where recombinant DNA technology was developed and adopted as the first major commercial technology for genetic engineering at Stanford in the 1970s. This book examines the scientific and political genealogy of recombinant DNA technology, which encompassed the economic and legal transformations that triggered the technology’s commercialization, and the realignment of the public obligations and the moral life of academic scientists amid the rise of commercial biotechnology. Its close examination of the changing scientific agendas, legal practices, and moral assumptions about commercialization in the academic community of the Bay Area tells a much broader story of the reconfiguration of both academic institutions and commercial enterprise in biomedicine. The attempts of Stanford scientists and administrators to demonstrate the relevance of academic research were increasingly mediated by capitalistic conceptions of knowledge, medical innovation, and the public interest, resulting in legal shifts and moral realignments that encouraged the privatization of academic research for public benefit. This book argues that biotechnology was initially a hybrid creation of academic and commercial institutions held together by the assumption of a positive relationship between private ownership and the public interest.

Keywords: history of biotechnology; commercialization; genetic engineering; Stanford University; moral economy; intellectual property; history of the research university

Book.  304 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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Conclusion in The Recombinant University


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