With the state budget slowly taking shape and two campuses (likely) nearing official announcements concerning their next leaders, it was a slow news week for UC. The big headline concerned a patent fight between Berkeley and MIT/Harvard. Despite an upbeat press release from Berkeley, most media outlets are portraying the decision as a win for the east coast universities. The most likely outcome moving forward is that Berkeley’s claim to CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology will be shared with the two private institutions. Also, the LAO offered its analysis of higher education funding to the Legislature, suggesting that “UC’s Academic Excellence initiative lacks clear objectives and detail. If UC is unable to provide sufficient justification for this initiative, we recommend redirecting the associated funding to higher priorities.”
2/15 – UC Berkeley Suffers Big Loss in Patent Fight (LATimes): Despite a sunny press release from UC Berkeley, the university faced a setback in a patent battle over CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology. A Berkeley scientist and collaborator first used the technology, successfully editing the genes of prokaryotic cells. However, shortly after, a scientist at the MIT and Harvard-affiliated Broad Institute successfully used the technology on eukaryotic cells, namely the cells found in animals and plants. Because the Broad patent application was relatively more narrow, applying only to the technology’s application to eukaryotic cells, it was approved before the Berkeley application, which, if approved, will apply to the CRISPR-Cas9 technology more broadly. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board this week decided to allow both patents to coexist, despite objections from Berkeley. The decision could be appealed, or future applications of the technology could be required from both parties.
Read the UC Berkeley press release here.
2/16 – LAO: Higher Education Analysis (LAO): The LAO offered its analysis of budget requests from the state’s higher education systems. Note the below about UC:
Second, UC’s Academic Excellence initiative lacks clear objectives and detail. If UC is unable to provide sufficient justification for this initiative, we recommend redirecting the associated funding to higher priorities. Finally, the Legislature faces two other significant UC decisions in the coming year: (1) whether to use Proposition 56 funding to replace or augment existing funding for graduate medical education, and (2) whether to allow UC to increase nonresident enrollment in 2017‑18.
2/14 – Livermore: UC admission at risk for charter students (EastBayTimes): UC Berkeley informed Livermore Valley Charter Prep that its seniors may not qualify for admission because of the high school’s accreditation woes.