Funding CRISPR: Understanding the role of government and philanthropic institutions in supporting academic research within the CRISPR innovation system

09/24/2020 ∙ by David Fajardo-Ortiz, et al. ∙ 0

CRISPR/Cas has the potential to revolutionize medicine, agriculture, and biology. Understanding the trajectory of innovation, how it is influenced and who pays for it, is an essential research policy question, especially as US government support for research experiences a relative decline. We use a new method – based on funding sources identified in publications' funding acknowledgements – to map the networks involved in supporting key stages of highly influential research, namely basic biological research and technology development. We present a model of co-funding networks at the two most prominent institutions for CRISPR/Cas research, the University of California and the Harvard/MIT/Broad Institute, to illuminate how philanthropic and charitable organizations have articulated with US government agencies to co-finance the discovery and development of CRISPR/Cas. We mapped foundational US government support to both stages of CRISPR/Cas research at both institutions, while philanthropic organizations have concentrated in co-funding CRISPR/Cas technology development as opposed to basic biological research. This is particularly true for the Broad/Harvard/MIT system, where philanthropic investment clustered around particular technological development themes. These network models raise fundamental questions about the role of the state and the influence of philanthropy over the trajectory of transformative technologies.

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