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December 1, 1994. Nature publishes article entitled: "Positional cloning of the mouse obese gene and its human analogue" by Zhang et al., from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York, USA. May 5, 1995. Science publishes a News and Comment Section: Rockefeller Strikes Fat Deal with Amgen: "In a deal soon to be completed, Rockefeller University will receive a $20 million payment from biotech giant Amgen for an exclusive license to develop products from a gene that may play a role in determining obesity...."
At 9:19 a.m. on July 26, a biotechnology analyst, Teena Lerner, from the brokerage firm of Lehman Brothers, breaks news of the impending publications over an electronic wire service. 3 papers dealing with effects of the obese gene product submitted to Science (received May 26, May 5, May 24; accepted June 28, June 29, July 5.) Scheduled to appear on July 28, 1995. Journal embargoes news until the evening of July 27 to permit reporters advance access to technical information to prepare accurate reports for the public.

Stock prices (graph)
Figure 1. Amgen Stock Prices

August 4, 1995. Editor-in-chief Floyd Bloom acknowledges that such events may force some changes in how journals operate.


This problem traced the sequence of events over a 9 month period. Students used this problem to explore a variety of issues - the attitudes towards obesity in our society, the studies carried out to define the obesity gene, the publication process, the role of mass media in disseminating information about scientific breakthroughs and the emergence of biotech companies and academic-industrial relations.

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