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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 77, Number 2 (Jan. 1976)

Jordan, Wm. R., III
WARF: a half century of progress,   pp. 4-6


Page 5


WARE: A Half Century
                                                              Of IJgress
Hanks, all of Madison, and New
York attorney William S. Kies.
  On February 18, 1927, Steenbock
signed over to WARF his rights to
the vitamin D irradiation process.
In return he received ten dollars.
"Probably ten dollars never bought
so much before in history," an article
in Reader's Digest was to declare
thirteen years later.
   The value of Steenbock's irradia-
 tion process to society has been
 incalculable. It has been estimated
 that as many as half the children in
 America had some degree of vitamin
 D deficiency at the time Steenbock
 made his discovery. In some of these
 cases the deficiencies resulted in
 permanent crippling and disfigura-
 tion. Available sources of vitamin D,
 notably the infamous cod liver oil,
 were unpopular and expensive;
 Steenbock's inexpensive way of intro-
 ducing the vitamin into such every-
 day foods as bread and milk soon
 made it readily available to all.
    Applications for licenses to use the
 process flooded WARF's offices from
 manufacturers of products ranging
 from chewing gum to cosmetics.
 The licenses, however, went to manu-
 facturers of more substantial food
 items. The first was the Quaker
 Oats Company, followed by several
 pharmaceutical firms. Later, WARF
began licensing milk producers, and
milk became the standard source
of the vitamin, as it is today. By the
time the Steenbock patent expired
in 1945, it had produced more
than $8 million in net royalties, and
rickets had been eliminated as a
major health problem.
  The campus currently yields new
patent ideas at the rate of about
sixty each year. Since 1925, members
of the faculty have approached the
foundation with more than 1,500
suggestions for patentable ideas
resulting from their research-in
many cases research that has itself
been supported by money from the
foundation. Of these, about 250, have
actually been awarded patents and
forty-two have yielded a profit in
royalties. Many of them have signifi-
cantly advanced scientific knowledge
as well as contributing directly to
human welfare, most notably the
patents on the discovery by Karl
Paul Link of the blood anticoagulants
dicumarol and Warfarin. These have
given physicians a new measure of
control over blood clotting in sur-
  gery and in the treatment of certain
  diseases of the circulatory system.
  Warfarin is now also used all over
  the world as a rodenticide. Many
  other discoveries assigned to the
  foundation have been useful in medi-
cine. There is biochemist E. B. Hart's
preparation of copper and iron to
relieve anemia; his method for
stabilizing iodine in table salt; and
a solution devised by physicians
Manucher Javid and Paul Settlage
which relieves pressure on the brain
in patients with brain tumors or
head injuries.
   Other inventions have come to
WARF from the departments of
chemistry, pharmacy, soil science, bac-
teriology, food science, engineering
and many others.
   In all cases these have been
 assigned to the foundation volun-
 tarily, with 85 percent of the net
 royalties going to WARF; 15 per-
 cent shared by the inventors. Alto-
 gether, of WARF's forty-two royalty-
 earning discoveries, three have pro--:
 duced more than $1 million each;
 nine of them over $100,000, and four-
 teen have earned at least $10,000.
   While patent royalties provided
 the seed money, continued growth
 has depended largely on investment
 in common stocks of young growing
 companies. The combination of
 the two-royalties and investment
 -have seen an original $900 grow
 to nearly $100 million. A third source
 of revenue is the generosity of a
 number of benefactors who have
 given funds and property to WARF
 in order to advance its goals.
    Three years after its founding in
  1925 the young WARF was
  able to make its first grant to the
  University. Twelve hundred dollars
  went to W. H. Peterson and E. B.
  Fred for studies on the action of
  molds on wood. A decade later, the
  then Professor Fred wrote of some
  of the other projects funded: 171
  of them the previous year alone,
  including Conrad Elvehjem's studies
  of the antipellagra vitamin; Harry
  Harlow's early work on monkey
  behavior; and studies by R. Alex-
  ander Brink on hybrid corn which
  were just then helping to revolutionize
  corn-growing in the Midwest.
     The grants have continued through
   the years, usually in increasing
   amounts annually. Figures at the
   end of its first half-century show
   grants for the support of research:


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