I thought this Subtack post was very good and was surprised it hasn't been link-posted here yet. 

The post describes how the Rockefeller Foundation, and more specifically, one dude called Warren Weaver, basically created the field of molecular biology by providing very early funding. 


  • In 1933, the Natural Sciences Division began to fund what it called “quantitative biology” at the expense of all other scientific areas. Weaver would not coin the term “molecular biology” until 1938. To put this in perspective, 1938 was 15 years before Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA which ushered in the “classical era” of molecular biology.
    • Even scientists in the mid-1940s, transitioning from fields like physics and biochemistry to molecular biology, still considered the move a gamble.
  • From 1954-1965, 18 Nobel Prizes were given out for molecular biology. 15 of them were beneficiaries of Rockefeller Foundation funding.
    • And, before you retort that “it’s easy to fund winners if they already have a track record,” the Foundation funded them, as Weaver noted, “on the average over nineteen years in advance” of winning the prize. In that era, people were often winning Nobel Prizes in their mid-to-late 40s…


  • If you’re thinking, “anybody can get lucky once if there are enough organizations giving grants,”…Weaver would go on to do it again. In the early 1950s, just as the field of molecular biology was blooming with the discovery of DNA’s structure, Weaver began diverting much of his Division’s funding away from molecular biology and towards a young agricultural research program. This program would go on to be responsible for one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century in terms of human welfare gains: miracle rice.


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