The Broad Institute is pushing the boundary of what it means to be a nonprofit, especially in how it is handling its CRISPR business and partnerships, writes Jim Kozubek in an opinion piece at Stat News.
"These relationships can challenge the concept of 'public interest,'" says Kozubek, a former data scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital who also had an affiliation at the Broad.
Kozubek notes that the Broad has a close relationship with the for-profit Editas Medicine, which was started by Broad researcher Feng Zhang. He adds that Editas has an exclusive license to CRISPR-Cas9 from the Broad and that Editas co-founder David Liu has become a core member of the Broad. He also says that Zhang and his colleagues have also patented an application of the related CRISPR-Cpfl, an exclusive license for which was then given to Editas for medical applications.
"There is something intuitively wrong about a tax-exempt nonprofit organization such as the Broad being so financially aggressive," Kozubek argues. "Taxpayers should not be paying for biomedical research and development that preferentially benefits the scientific elites who hold and legally defend their property ownership."