The University of Pennsylvania appears to be one of the first universities to use NFTs to raise additional funding for research. The university is offering for sale an NFT that commemorates the development of the mRNA technology used to develop vaccines for COVID-19. Here is a description of the project:
The NFT features a stunning, one-minute 3D animation of the type of modified mRNA that protects the immune system from SARS-CoV-2 and the platform technology which holds promise for combatting other infectious diseases, as well as immunotherapeutics, cancer treatments, genetic diseases, and more. The video shows mRNA encapsulated inside of lipid nanoparticles, the fat droplets that are the delivery technique Weissman’s lab applied to ensure mRNA reaches the right part of the body to trigger an immune response. The NFT also includes images of Penn mRNA patent documents and a letter from Weissman, who directs the Penn Institute for RNA Innovation, about the ways in which he and colleagues are leveraging the mRNA technology platform to fight not only coronaviruses but also influenza, herpes, malaria, sickle cell anemia and cancer.
Funds raised by the sale of the NFT—the first digital asset Penn has offered—will further important research across the university.