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March 10th, 2008
In a chemist's version of a winning PowerBall ticket, Richard Silverman's discovery eventually became a blockbuster drug that showered him and Northwestern University with more than $700 million in royalties.
Still, there was disappointment along the way. Once Pfizer Inc., the giant pharmaceutical concern, took control of the drug's development, Silverman was pushed aside.
"I was an outsider," said Silverman, 61. "There was no talk with their scientists. No comments. They had a launch party for the drug, and I asked to come. Nope. No party for me. They take your stuff and tell you to go away."
While it is common for university professors in places like California's Silicon Valley and Boston's Highway 128 to commercialize their research, it is less common in the Midwest, said Jon Wasserman, a Chicago-based attorney specializing in nanotechnology issues.
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