Campus & community, Campus news

UC Berkeley’s Nobel NFT auction set for noon PDT on June 7

By Robert Sanders

James Allison in his lab
James Allison, who shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was a UC Berkeley professor when he made the fundamental discoveries that led to breakthrough treatments for cancer. (Photo courtesy of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center)
James Allison in his lab

James Allison, who shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. (Photo courtesy of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center)

A first-of-its-kind NFT containing the detailed scientific findings behind a Nobel Prize-winning invention — cancer immunotherapy — will go up for auction at 12 noon PDT on Monday, June 7, on Foundation , a platform on the Ethereum blockchain.

The reserve price will be 4 ETH (Ether) — a reference to immunotherapy being the fourth pillar of cancer treatment — the equivalent of about $10,000. Proceeds from the NFT, minted last week by the University of California, Berkeley, will go toward research and education and offsetting the carbon footprint of minting and auctioning the NFT.

This is the first university-issued NFT based on an invention — in this case, the invention of cancer immunotherapy stemming from world-changing research that was recognized with a 2018 Nobel prize.

The 24-hour auction extends from noon on June 7 through noon on Tuesday, June 8. A bid received within the last 15 minutes of the auction will extend the auction by another 15 minutes. Bidders must have an Ethereum wallet containing ETH cryptocurrency. One ETH is currently valued at about $2,500.

thumbnail of NFT

The NFT for Jim Allison’s Nobel Prize-winning invention was minted on May 27 and will go up for auction June 3 on Foundation. (NFT design by Maggie Valentine)

The NFT points to an online artistic image containing ten pages of an invention disclosure and related correspondences that in 1995, James Allison, then a UC Berkeley professor, submitted to the campus detailing his discovery of a way to take the brakes off the immune system and unleash it to fight cancer. The development revitalized the field of cancer immunotherapy and created a fourth pillar of cancer treatment, in addition to radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. Today, there are more than 1,000 ongoing clinical trials of immunotherapies for a range of cancers. Allison, now at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the work.

In March, an NFT of a collage of images by the American digital artist known as Beeple sold for $69.4 million. On Foundation, former computer intelligence consultant Edward Snowden sold an NFT for $7 million in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and New York Times journalist Kevin Roose raised nearly $1 million from the sale of an article about minting an NFT.

UC Berkeley will auction NFTs of Nobel Prize-winning inventions to fund research