[Marxism] Re: the academic-industrial complex

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Thu May 5 15:34:52 MDT 2005

yesterday i posted a note from Nature magazine from Aug of 2004:

> Washington - The size of the pay package awarded to a former executive 
> director of the American Chemical Society (ACS), which was nearly 
> $768,000 in 2002, has led to protests from members.

today in Science i read:


Science, Vol 308, Issue 5723, 774 , 6 May 2005

Chemists Want NIH to Curtail Database
Jocelyn Kaiser

The American Chemical Society (ACS) wants the U.S. government to shut 
down a free database that it says duplicates the society's fee-based 
Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). Government officials defend the site, 
called PubChem, saying the two serve different purposes and will 
complement, rather than compete with, each other. But ACS officials are 
hoping to convince Congress to stop PubChem unless the government scales 
it back.

PubChem was launched last fall by the National Institutes of Health 
(NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, as a free storehouse of data on small 
organic molecules. It is a component of the Molecular Libraries 
Initiative, which is a part of NIH Director Elias Zerhouni's road map 
for translating biomedical research. So far, PubChem includes 
information on 650,000 compounds, such as structures and biological 
assays, as well as links to PubMed, NIH's free biomedical abstracts 
database. It will grow to include data from the Molecular Libraries 
centers, which aim to screen thousands of molecules for biological 
activity. NIH expects basic researchers to use PubChem to identify 
chemicals they can use to explore how genes and cells work.

But ACS claims PubChem goes far beyond a chemical probes database. It 
is, ACS says, a smaller version of CAS, which employs more than 1200 
people in Columbus, Ohio, and makes a significant contribution to the 
society's $317 million in annual revenue from publications. 
Institutional subscribers receive data on 25 million chemicals, 
including summaries written by CAS experts and links to chemistry 
journal abstracts. Like CAS, PubChem assigns each chemical a unique 
identifying number, and until a few weeks ago, the sites even looked 
quite similar, says ACS Chief Executive Officer Madeleine Jacobs. 
Claiming that PubChem could wipe out CAS, Jacobs argues that NIH should 
abide by its stated mission of storing only data from the Molecular 
Libraries Initiative and other NIH-funded research.

NIH officials counter that PubChem indexes a set of biomedical journals 
that overlaps only slightly with those CAS indexes and, unlike CAS, does 
not provide curated information on patents or reactions. "They have a 
vast amount of information that PubChem would never dream of including," 
says Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research 
Institute. PubChem's focus on biological information such as protein 
structures and toxicology is complementary, he says. NIH has offered to 
link entries in PubChem to CAS, but ACS says that wouldn't help.

ACS has enlisted Ohio's governor, Republican Bob Taft, as well as the 
state's congressional delegation to push its case. The legislators sent 
a letter on 8 March to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael 
Leavitt arguing that PubChem could pose "direct and unfair competition" 
with CAS. The lawmakers compare it to PubScience, a Department of Energy 
abstracts database that was shut down in 2002 after House appropriators 
decided it violated rules prohibiting the government from duplicating 
private services. ACS was part of that lobbying campaign.

NIH officials are worried that PubChem could suffer the same fate and 
hope to make their case this month to Senator Mike Dewine (R-OH). 
Jacobs, for her part, wants NIH to "stick to its mission" and cut back 
the scope of PubChem. If not, she promises "to bring to bear all of our 
influence and resources."


but compare with:


Science, Vol 308, Issue 5723, 775 , 6 May 2005

Celera to End Subscriptions and Give Data to Public GenBank
Jocelyn Kaiser

A once-deafening debate over access to human genome sequence data ended 
quietly last week. Celera Genomics Corp., the company that launched a 
commercial effort to sequence the human genome and then set about making 
money from the data, is closing its subscription-based database service 
and will release its genomic data on humans, rats, and mice to the public.


Most scientists would probably say that the outcome was inevitable. "I 
think the whole model ran its course and was superceded by the public 
effort," says genome sequencer Richard Gibbs of Baylor University in 
Waco, Texas.



i suspect that the ACS is making a ton of money on information about 
standard chemicals, whereas all the genomic stuff is still new and 
venture capital based (i.e. speculative) and hence not as lucrative on 
the open market.

les schaffer

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