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McGill Reporter
May 4, 2000 - Volume 32 Number 16
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To the editor:

I was incorrect in my April 6 article about the amount of money Martlet R&D Investments Inc. raised. It was not $20 million but close to $100 million.

In his reply to my April 6 article in the Reporter, former Vice Principal (Academic) T. H. Chan confirms that as chair of the Department of Chemistry, he had the responsibility of submitting projects for Martlet, but absolves himself from failing to have had an open competition because, he states, the policy decision was to seek team projects. I have, however, the prospectus of Martlet in front of me. There are a total of 25 projects, all in the University and all sounding promising about new products to commercialize. Of these, 10 are team projects and 15 are single projects. Several of the team projects have only two investigators. In chemistry there are two projects, one team and one single for a total of $4.5 million. Professor Chan is listed as being on two team projects, totaling over $13 million. I do not in any way begrudge my colleagues this funding, I just wanted, as a faculty member, a level playing field, and as a Martlet shareholder, some profits.

Professor B. C. Sanctuary
Department of Chemistry

We invited Professor Chan to respond to Professor Sanctuary's most recent letter.

To the editor:

As I said in my previous letter to the McGill Reporter, the policy decision for the funding of projects was made at the then VP (Research) and the then Dean of Science level. If Professor Sanctuary cared to look at the same prospectus, he would have seen that all the projects funded in the Faculty of Science were of the team project kind including the two in chemistry, one on polymer chemistry and the other on organic chemistry.

Since Professor Sanctuary stooped low enough in his letter to make the observation that I was listed in two team projects, it provides me with the opportunity to put this on the public record. As I said, I was not involved in the decision-making, so I didn't even know which project would have been funded. It was only after the prospectus was issued that I realized the two teams, one on organic chemistry and the other on drug discovery from the Faculty of Medicine with which I had been involved as a researcher, had both been listed. I was not the project leader in either of the two teams. Even so, as a matter of principle, I subsequently declined to receive any funding from the organic chemistry team. This can be verified easily from the other team members in the organic chemistry team.

Professor T. H. Chan
Department of Chemistry

To the editor:

I have read in the Reporter the exchange of views between Professors Sanctuary, Bélanger and Chan concerning the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT). I would like to add a brief comment of my own.

I have dealt with OTT regularly in the last few years to create a spin-off company (Chronogen, Inc.) in which McGill and myself have equity. This company now also funds research at McGill and the whole business ended to everybody's satisfaction.

My feeling is that OTT, and in particular Mr. Brassinga and later Dr. Navarre, have acted very competently and diligently in this matter. They showed a flexibility of views that was required to allow us to create a very special sort of research-based company. I felt that in all negotiations they managed to defend adequately the interests of McGill without giving me the impression that my interests were being disregarded in any way.

Of course, OTT is not perfect, but is certainly no worse than any other agency at McGill, which all suffer from being not-for-profit. However, I would not want this to be any different as it is a rather small price to pay for our academic freedom.

Professor Siegfried Hekimi
Department of Biology

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