Article ID: CBB000931983

The Scientific Commons in the Marketplace: The Industrialization of Biomedical Materials at the New England Enzyme Center, 1963--1980 (2009)


This paper investigates the industrialization of biomedical materials at the New England Enzyme Center (NEEC) from its establishment as a federally supported biochemical resource center in 1964 through its demise and refashioning into several commercial biotech companies in the late 1970s. It sets this history within the long-standing debate on the proper relation between science and American economic and political traditions. The NEEC sought to embody two aims that stood in tension: academic independence in knowledge production and the market-driven interests of the biomedical industry. A clash of values ensued, but built on a particular notion of independence: scientists pragmatically accepted the primacy of the market in the age of the 'federal research economy.' The question became how to carve out a space for science and scientific values in the market - an intellectual position that some legal and economic scholars have referred to as a scientific commons. Even so, industry executives came to see the idea of a scientific commons and public knowledge as obstructive to industrial innovation. This paper argues that, as seen through the case of the NEEC, the ascendancy of market values and attitudes in the 1970s played a critical role in reconfiguring the science-industry relationship and in 'industrializing' the life sciences. As illustration of this change, I look at a commercial firm - Genzyme - born out of NEEC's dissolution. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Authors & Contributors
Santesmases, María Jesús
Jones, Mark Peter
Hughes, Sally Smith
Welsh, Rick
Vettel, Eric James
Smart, Andrew
Social Studies of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
University of Maryland, College Park
University of California, San Diego
Carnegie Mellon University
University of Pennsylvania Press
University of Chicago Press
University of California Press
Biotechnology industry
Science and industry
Molecular biology
Business and commerce
Pharmaceutical industry
Mitchell, Peter D.
Merton, Robert K.
Ochoa, Severo
Boyer, Paul
Time Periods
20th century, late
19th century
United States
Wisconsin (U.S.)
California (U.S.)
Great Britain
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Royal Society of London

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