Friday, May 28, 2021

As P.T. Barnum is supposed to have said...

"There's a sucker born every minute." So - says UC-Berkeley - why not exploit that situation to do some fund raising? 

Most of us will never win a Nobel Prize, but the University of California, Berkeley, is offering everyone the opportunity to purchase the next best thing: nonfungible tokens (NFTs) for the patent disclosures at the heart of two Nobel Prize-winning inventions from the university’s research labs.

The NFTs link to online digitized documents — internal forms and correspondence that document the initial research findings that led to two of the most important biomedical breakthroughs of the 21st century: CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, for which UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna shared the 2020 Nobel in Chemistry; and cancer immunotherapy, for which James Allison shared the 2018 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine. UC Berkeley will continue to own the relevant patents.

The university minted an NFT for Allison’s cancer immunotherapy invention today (May 27) in advance of a 24-hour auction that will begin after the piece is listed as early as Wednesday, June 2. The auction will take place on Foundation (, an Ethereum-based NFT auction platform. Ethereum is a blockchain network that uses ether, or ETH, for transactions. The proceeds of the auction in ETH will fund education and innovative research at UC Berkeley, including work in the campus’s blockchain hub, Blockchain at Berkeley.

Within the past few months, NFTs have rapidly become popular as a means of selling digital assets, including artwork, video and even Twitter posts. Non-fungible refers to the fact that they are unique objects — one of a kind, if you will, unlike interchangeable money — and the blockchain token is the verifiable provenance of the object. In March, an NFT of a collage of images by the artist known as Beeple sold for $69.4 million. On Foundation, Edward Snowden sold an NFT for $7M in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and New York Times journalist Kevin Roose raised nearly $1M for the sale of an article about minting an NFT.

“Someone might ask, ‘Why would I want a digital version of some internal university form?’ Because it represents something magnificent,” said Rich Lyons, UC Berkeley’s chief innovation & entrepreneurship officer. “There are people who recognize and care about symbols of great science, and even if they never intend to resell the NFT, they want to own it and they want resources to go back to Berkeley, where the basic research behind these Nobel Prizes came from, to support further research.”

“People give us donations all the time because they care about the institution and the science,” he added. “So here is a way for somebody to invest in the institution in a slightly different way.” ...

Full news release at

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