The Bayh-Dole Act passed in 1980 has been cited in many of the academic technology transfer success stories which emerged over the three decades that followed. University of Michigan professor and medical historian Howard Markel believes it is time for a change, however, suggesting that the legislation is poorly prepared to align with the realities of today's fast-moving biotechnology sector.
In a recent submission to the New England Journal of Medicine, Markel objected to conventional wisdom which would suggest that the Bayh-Dole Act has spurred significant innovation and remains beyond reproach. He even went so far as to chronicle the unusual confluence of political variables that led to the legislation's initial passage.
"The Bayh-Dole Act has had such far-reaching influence in both academia and American society, but it certainly is not a law that should be set in stone," Markel wrote. "There have been many great things and grave problems that have merged since the passage of Bayh-Dole, but because the landscape of biotechnologies in universities and industry has evolved so far, so fast, it's time to have a rational, serious dialogue about revising it to reduce the risks the law has created."
According to Science 2.0, Markel is hoping to forge progress in the areas of industrial ethics, scientific collaboration and ROI generation for taxpayer contributions.