Why would a major pharmaceutical company like Bristol-Myers give half a million dollars to a neuroscientist without requiring him to submit a grant application? And why would the grant be unrestricted, with no spending guidelines? Why wouldn’t the principal investigator be required to offer the company first right of refusal to any patent resulting from the research—or even to write up periodic reports?

“It’s seed money for good science,” says Davis L. Temple, Jr., vice president in charge of central nervous system research at Bristol-Myers’ Pharmaceutical Research and Development Division in New York. Temple chairs the committee that selects the recipients of Bristol-Myers’ Unrestricted Neuroscience Grants. The program, he says, “enables people in industry to become better acquainted with some of the academic scientists.” Bristol-Myers’ goal, Temple explains, is to fund “basic science that might provide key findings” leading to a cure for the central nervous system diseases “that are...

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