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Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 49, Number 9 (June 1948)

Ross, Ward; Schoenfeld, Clay
W.A.R.F. report,   pp. 21-31


Page 23


the invention could not have been made.
In other words, the researcher is under
no obligation to turn over to the Foun-
dation  any  such  invention. He is
wholly free to dispose of the fruits of
his efforts as he chooses. An assign-
ment by him to the Foundation is al-
ways upon a purely voluntary basis.
  Just as the WARF is a distinct cor-
porate entity from the University, so
has it no connection with two other
organizations with which it is fre-
quently, and easily, confused-the Wis-
consin Alumni Association and the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin Foundation.
  The Alumni Association was organ-
ized in 1861 as a body of alumni and
former students of Wisconsin to "pro-
mote by organized effort the best inter-
ests of the University." It publishes the
monthly Wisconsin Alumnus and in
other ways stimulates interest in and
support for the University.
  The University of Wisconsin Founda-
tion, set up in 1945, is a group of
alumni and friends of the University
who are seeking to raise gifts and be-
quests for it. These funds will be used
to create scholarships and fellowships,
endow special professorships, purchase
valuable equipment, and generally to aid
the University in securing funds for
purposes for which the legislature can-
not be expected to make provision. The
Foundation is now engaged in a $5,-
000,000 Centennial Fund campaign.
  Some of the same alumni who are
prominent in Association and Univer-
sity Foundation work are also members
of the WARF's Board of Trustees, but
the accidental connection between the
three organizations ceases there.
  Dr. Steenbock's discovery, being basic
and pioneer in character, was con-
sequently of very broad scope. It was
early apparent that t hi s discovery
would find commercial application in
connection with a wide variety of pro-
ducts, including many different kinds
of foods and pharmaceutical prepara-
tions. It thus was clear that, the com-
mercial development of the inventions
would involve not simply licensing
arrangements with one specific indus-
try, or even perhaps with a few con-
cerns in one specific industry, but would
involve a complex licensing program,
covering a variety of branches of the
food and drug industries.
Three Great Objectives
  From the outset of its handling of
the Steenbock patents, the Foundation
had several objectives. These were:
    1. To protect the public from
  fraudulent claims and quackery.
    2. To facilitate the wide-spread
  distribution of vitamin D to chil-
  dren and to make them strong-
  boned and free from rickets.
    3. To provide funds for research
  in the natural sciences at the Uni-
  versity of Wisconsin.
  All three of these objectives have
been accomplished to a degree which
has far surpassed early hopes and ex-
pectations. Let's see how.
  But first, let's take a look at what
might have happened without a WARF.
  The Steenbock discovery was capable
of misuse by quacks and others, and
unless properly  administered  would
constitute a tool in the hands of frau-
dulent advertisers and unscrupulous
business men. The inventions, having
been among the most important inven-
tions made in 25 or more years, re-
ceived a very considerable amount of
publicity, both in the lay press and in
technical journals. The nature of the
inventions was such that they peculiarly
lent themselves to unscrupulous use.
  A particular food substance, when
treated by ultra-violet rays, is not
changed in taste, color, smell, or other
physical characteristics. The only way
the increase in vitamin D content of
such a treated food can be determined
is by a complicated biological assay, in-
volving the use oT rats and taking a
considerable period of time. At the
time of these discoveries vitamins were
becoming popular in the public mind.
Though there were many first class
concerns showing great interest there
were also manufacturers of a variety
of foods and medicinal products who
were anxious to seize upon the inven-
tions and exploit them to the detriment
of the public.
  To illustrate this point, Dr. Russell,
formerly in active charge of the oper-
ations of the Foundation, tells this
story:
  "One day in Chicago, shortly after
  Steenbock's discovery had been an-
nounced in the press, I saw a crowd of
people before the show window of a
leading State Street drug store watch-
WARF Started with an Idea
  As we have said, prior to the organ-
ization of the Wisconsin Alumni Re-
search Foundation in 1925, Professor
Steenbock had made his truly epoch-
making discovery that vitamin D could
be created in pharmaceutical products
and foods by treatment of them with
ultra-violet rays. He had applied for
a patent on his invention.
  After the organization of the Founda-
tion, Dr. Steenbock assigned to it his
then-pending applications for patents.
  Most educational foundations start
with considerable invested capital. The
Foundation started with a fund of
$900, representing $100 contributed by
each of the nine original members of
the Foundation. Its sole assets were
these $900 and -Dr. Steenbock's idea and
patent application which he had fin-
anced personally.
  Dr. Steenbock's inventions, it is
worth repeating, were the result of his
long and painstaking period of re-
search. For many years he had been
studying in the general field of animal
nutrition, in which these inventions lie.
Particularly, he had been concerned
with the cause of loss of calcium from
the body, the nature and storage of
vitamin A, and the requirements for
growth. His vitamin D discovery was
in no sense accidental or unrelated to
his research work-on the contrary, it
was the culmination of a long period
of careful investigation.
  The Foundation proceeded under the
theory that a- patent and its public-
spirited administration is necessary to
protect a discovery from misuse.
       STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL CONDITION
       WISCONSIN ALUMNI RESEARCH FOUNDATION
                        December 31, 1947
Assets
  CURRENTASSETS---------- $                319,778.42
    (Cash in Banks, Accounts Receiv-
    able, Inventories)
  INVESTMENTS ------------------11,586,589.93
    (Stocks, bonds, mortgages, real
    estate)
  BUILDINGS, LAND and OTHER
  ASSETS -------------------------566,576.94
      TOTAL ASSETS
Liabilities and Capital Accounts
  CURRENT LIABILITIES -----------$  48,528.31
    (Royalties due inventors, with-
    holding taxes)
  GRANTS PAYABLE TO UNIV. OF
  WIS. ----------------------------581,224.58
    (Current and accumulated grants)
  RESERVES ----------------------1,045,788.66
  CAPITAL ACCOUNTS:
    A. EARNED SURPLUS ----------10,796,503.74
    B. CAPITAL CONTRIBUTIONS -_       900.00
      TOTAL
$12,472,945.29
$12,472,945.29
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