Knowledge for the world: A brief history of commercialization at Johns Hopkins University

Maryann Feldman, Pierre Desrochers, Janet Bercovitz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


“What are we aiming at? The encouragement of research…and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.” – Daniel Coit Gilman, First President, Johns Hopkins University, Inauguration Address Feb. 22, 1876 Six years before his death, Baltimore merchant and railroad magnate Johns Hopkins (1795–1873) organized two separate corporations, one for a hospital and another for a university, and divided $7,000,000 equally between the two in his 1870 will. This gift, the largest ever made to any academic outlet at the time, gave the trustees a free hand to implement their vision of an institution primarily devoted to research and graduate training. The university opened as a graduate school for men in 1876 and the hospital welcomed its first patients in 1889. The early history of Hopkins’s relationship to industry is strongly associated with its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman (1831–1908). An admirer of the German university system, which emphasized specialized training and research, Gilman sought to create an institution that would encourage graduate research and the advancement of individual scholars. As such, the new university would differ significantly from the practical teachings of land grant colleges and polytechnic schools as well as from the traditional American liberal arts college that emphasized the communication of previously held knowledge. Because of public pressure that called for the institution to play a more significant role in the local community, however, Gilman had to modify his original plan and include undergraduate teaching. Three professional divisions were added in later decades: medicine (1893), engineering (1912), and hygiene and public health (1916).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBuilding Technology Transfer Within Research Universities
Subtitle of host publicationAn Entrepreneurial Approach
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9781139046930
ISBN (Print)9780521876537
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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