Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Judah Folkman Is Dead
No sacred cows here. Dr. Juday Folkman died of a heart attack this past week at the airport in Denver. He had a great career in medicine. He was an MD surgeon who had a second career as a PI in a laboratory that explored the involvement of blood vessel in tumor growth.
The CCS does respect Dr. Folkman for offering up a new idea to the establishment and proving that tumors need blood. But then all cells need blood for oxygen and to carry away their waste. This should have been less heresy than it was. The real issue we have with Dr. Folkman however is his role in bringing corporate america into academia.
Dr. Folkman had spent a long time looking for a tumor angiogenesis factor that he decided had to be secreted by the tumor. What he needed was money to grow up large amounts of tumor cells to increase the odds of finding the factor. Monsanto was eager to give him what he wanted. The grant he was given and the terms of the deal swung the academic doors wide open for the corporate world. Their money could now buy access to the usefulness of our university system.
What they wanted of course were patents. They wanted to lay claim to the good work being done, not in their laboratories, but in the superior labs of university scientists. In my next post I will recount a humorous ending to one of Dr. Folkmans corporate sponsored R&D projects. For now I will end with the moral of this story:
The introduction of corporate minds and money into the world of science has been a disaster. In many ways, it began with Dr. Folkmans desire to become a scientist.