Prof Crown, who is non-party, said last night that if elected his Seanad salary would go toward hiring a young researcher in the cancer field.
A strong advocate for reform of the health service, Prof Crown was persuaded by a number of friends to run.
The other big surprise is the entry of Sinn Fein into the university constituency. Aengus O Snodaigh TD proposed party colleague Eoin O Broin, who was narrowly defeated in Dublin Mid-West for a Dail seat.
About 100,000 NUI graduates are registered to take part in the postal vote, which takes place from March 21 to April 27.
Meanwhile, Labour's Ivana Bacik, who narrowly missed a Dail seat in Dun Laoghaire, is seeking to retain her Seanad seat in the Trinity constituency, which is also a three-seater despite having only half the number of graduates eligible to vote -- 53,655.