A picture of James Allison and Jennifer Doudna

The University of California, Berkeley, is auctioning the patent disclosures behind two Nobel Prize-winning discoveries by selling them as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have recently gained popularity as a way to sell digital assets. The program is part of the fundraising campaign to finance basic research at the university.

On May 27, UC Berkeley coined an NFT related to the development of a cancer immunotherapy for which James Allison received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2018 while undergraduate. A 24-hour auction will start on June 2nd.

NFTs are unique, verifiable digital assets that cannot be copied or replicated because they are stored in a distributed computerized data set called a blockchain. Ownership of the original is encrypted and non-transferable unless it is officially sold to another party.

The second NFT, sold by UC Berkeley and minted at a later date, is for the gene editing technology Crispr-Cas9, which Jennifer Doudna jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year. The university says it now has 44 Crispr-based patents in the U.S. and dozens of foreign patents, including the original patent application.

Both of the NFTs being auctioned will be linked to online digitized records, including internal forms and correspondence, documenting the first research leading to these Nobel Prize-winning breakthroughs.

UC Berkeley, which continues to hold the relevant patents for the two discoveries, will receive 85% of the proceeds and the remaining 15% will go to the Foundation, the platform on which the auctions take place. The university will also receive 10% of the proceeds from any future sale of the NFTs, and the foundation will receive 5%.

‘Something Great’

UC Berkeley is consistently one of the five strongest research universities in the world and is currently number one in chemistry. The university has 25 Nobel Prize winners among its faculties.

“Someone might ask,” Why should I have a digital version of an in-university form? “Because it’s great,” said Rich Lyons, UC Berkeley’s chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer. “There are people who recognize symbols of great science and care for them, and even if they never intend to resell the NFT, they want to own it and they want the resources to flow back to Berkeley, where the basic research behind those Nobel Prizes came from. ” to aid further research. ‘

Lindsay Howard, the Foundation’s community leader, added, “We are just beginning to see the beginning of what is possible, and supporting Nobel Prize-winning cancer research is certainly at the forefront.”

The university hopes that the publication of the sale of these two NFTs will help underscore the key role that university basic research plays in major scientific breakthroughs. “The auction of NFTs of Nobel Prize-winning invention disclosures to fund research and discovery in the spotlight is an example of the creative environment that fuels UC Berkeley,” said Mike Alvarez Cohen, who leads the development of the innovation ecosystem at UC Berkeley’s intellectual property office . “Berkeley might have pioneered a new category of NFT and a way for universities to commemorate and monetize their historic discoveries.”

A portion of the university’s proceeds will also be used to offset the energy costs for CO2 offsetting the NFTs, which are based on an average of 215 kg of CO2. can add up2, according to a current estimate.


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