Biotech: The Countercultural Origins of an Industry

By Eric J. Vettel | Go to book overview

Chapter 5 Research Life!

The insularity of the scientific community and its traditional insistence upon
sovereignty and subsidy are clearly on the way out. Political necessity now dic-
tates that science must be more responsive to the needs and the tastes of the public
.

Daniel Greenberg

When the 1960s began, at a time when fundamental research questions seemed to dominate the biological sciences at all three Bay Area research universities, a quiet opposition began to question the perceived value of pure knowledge, the federal government’s blanket support of research, and the isolation of biology from society’s greatest needs. Neither the number of people pressing this cause, the strength of their language, nor their proximate concerns—the general uselessness of fundamental knowledge in the biological sciences—stood out. Their mobilization was small when compared with the vibrant national liberal movements, but they had a significant regional base of strength. Then, by the mid-1960s, isolated discontent erupted into a hailstorm of protest. Pure research, it seemed, was a profound betrayal of the human side of the biological sciences.1

Public demand for practical bioscience research was not, of course, the only factor in determining the direction that the field would assume. Nor was a humanitarian ideology ever a uniform, universal, or static ideal. But the broad contours of what could generally be described as “applied bioscience research” remained fairly consistent from about 1959 until 1966, and those ideas played a major role in shaping new federal science policy that would eventually push the field in new directions, and, later on, become the conceptual purpose for a biotechnology industry.


The Cauldron of Pure Research

The sheer scale of postwar federal funding of scientific research through the early 1960s was impressive, its growth downright astonishing. Federal

-114-

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Biotech: The Countercultural Origins of an Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page cover
  • Contents 6
  • Preface 8
  • Chapter 1- The Setting, 1946 16
  • Chapter 2- Patronage and Policy 23
  • Chapter 3- The Promise and Peril of the BVL 45
  • Chapter 4- The Ascent of Pure Research 64
  • Chapter 5- Research Life! 114
  • Chapter 6- A Season of Policy Reform 144
  • Chapter 7- Crossing the Threshold 172
  • Chapter 8- Cetus- History’s First Biotechnology Company 201
  • Conclusion- An End 231
  • Notes 244
  • Sources Consulted 282
  • Index 284
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