It is approaching 60 years since Vannevar Bush and others persuaded the U.S. government to do a remarkable thing: take resources that had been at the disposal of the war effort and allocate them to the support of basic research, most of it in academic institutions. It came to be called the "Endless Frontier," a metaphor adroitly chosen to link the promising unknowns of 20th-century science with the promising unclaimed spaces of the 19th-century American West. The Endless Frontier changed fundamental science from a venture dependent on small privileged elites into a vast publicly owned enterprise.
That was the first revolution. The second, under way now, is a surge of basic biomedical science toward the private sector, driven by the mobilization of philanthropy and corporate risk capital. ...
In the December 14 issue of _Science_, columnist Donald Kennedy goes on to discuss the ways in which today's science is increasingly dominated and driven by corporate interests. He compares and contrasts with several other points in the history of science. (A letter to the editor in the latest _Science_ references this article.)
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