Accepting Tobacco $ = Academic Freedom?

Before relocating, I worked in a university Office of Research (with 6 health sciences schools & NCI-designated cancer center) across the street from a 450,000 sq ft, $350M Philip Morris USA research and technology center. Philip Morris’ money was welcome at said university, and their scientists can request affiliate faculty appointments. Although I miss my faculty friends, I am relieved to have put that obscene relationship behind me. Now the UC Board of Regents is balking at a ban on accepting money from Philip Morris due to the potential to interfere with … academic freedom? Well, at least the University of California system is openly discussing this conflict of academic interest. Best wishes for enlightenment at UC and elsewhere. We’ll see what the UC Regents say in May.

Regents delay vote on tobacco funding
By Matt Krupnick
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

SAN FRANCISCO – After a spirited discussion, a Board of Regents committee postponed its vote until May so faculty members could have more time to come to a consensus. The issue has divided faculty across the state.

Philip Morris USA is the only tobacco company to fund current UC research, paying nearly $16 million for 19 studies across the 10-campus system. Research sponsors are not allowed to control the studies’ results, but UC San Francisco professor Stan Glantz told regents that tobacco companies use results to confuse the public.

Glantz, one of the country’s foremost tobacco-use researchers, noted a federal judge ruled in August that the tobacco industry had engaged in decades of illegal behavior.

“Basically, we have a bunch of convicted racketeers funding research here,” he said. “They use universities against universities’ primary mission, that’s the problem.”

But regents’ concerns over limiting academic freedom appeared to turn sentiment against Glantz and Regent John Moores, who proposed the ban. UC President Robert Dynes said he was concerned that faculty members had not adequately weighed in on the proposal.

Several campus departments passed their own bans on tobacco money the past few years, but UC leaders overturned the prohibitions, saying only the Board of Regents could regulate research money.

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