With possibly hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, UC appealed a February decision by the US Patent Office concerning the gene-editing technology CRISPR. UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and a collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, were the first to utilize the technology, but researchers at the Harvard- and MIT-affiliated Broad Institute were the first to show how the technique can be used on the type of cells found in humans. The winter ruling allowed patents from both parties to stand, as the US Patent Office found UC’s more general claim was not infringed upon by the Broad Institute’s narrower claim. That decision could mean an enormous amount of licensing revenue is split between the parties. Last Tuesday, UC filed an appeal arguing that the Broad Institute’s patent claim is a clear extension of Doudna’s work. A similar legal tussle is ongoing in Europe. Meanwhile, an LA Times columnist noted Doudna’s misgivings about the technology’s potential. In a dream, Doudna says she envisioned being asked about the technology’s power by Adolf Hitler.
In other news, UC Davis’s new chancellor, Gary May, takes the reins this Tuesday, though ousted Chancellor Linda Katehi will also return to the faculty with a $318,000 9-month salary. UC Irvine has elicited criticism for rescinding 500 admissions offers due to missing paperwork and poor senior grades. The campus acknowledged it was being stricter than usual, which critics allege is driven by higher-than-expected enrollment.
7/26 – UC Berkeley fights back over epic loss in CRISPR verdict (SJMN): If UC wins its appeal, the issue will return to the patent office for another review.
7/26 – Ding, ding, ding! CRISPR patent fight enters next round (Science): The article downplays UC’s chance of a victory.
7/21 – Column: CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna struggles with the ethical implications of what she has wrought (LATimes): Doudna recently released a book about the history of the technology’s creation and her concerns about its future.
7/28 – UC Davis’ Linda Katehi returns to teaching, but she’ll be paid like a chancellor (SacBee): The article notes it is not clear whether Katehi will teach this fall.
7/25 – Press Release: Chancellor May Takes Office Aug. 1 (UCDavis): May comes to Davis from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
7/28 – UC Irvine is under fire for rescinding 500 admission offers two months before fall term begins (LATimes): The article notes UCI has encouraged impacted students to file appeals.