Genome Data Will be Available Online
Celera Genomics Corp. and the journal Science yesterday released the terms of their agreement that will make Celera's data set on the human genome map available through the company's Web site, the Washington Post reports. First announced in December, the collaboration between Celera and Science was criticized by the scientific community because it seemingly defied scientific journals' tradition of requiring authors to be "completely open about their data, material and methods" so other scientists could check the research. J. Craig Venter, Celera's president and chief scientific office, and Donald Kennedy, Science's editor-in-chief, said yesterday that the new arrangement represented a fair compromise between the need for Celera to protect its commercial and intellectual property rights and the company's need to provide researchers free access to the data (Gillis, Washington Post, 2/8). Celera will publish a "description and analysis" of the human genome in Science on Feb. 16, and the genetic data supporting the paper will be available on Celera's Web site. Following are the main provisions regarding how and when researches can access the genome data:
- Academic researchers can access a certain amount of data per week for free if "they register and agree not to pass the data on to competing database companies";
- Academic researchers are not restricted from "publishing any discoveries they make using the data, patenting their findings or licensing them to companies";
- Academic researchers can also request a full copy of the genetic database on CD or DVD disks, "if backed by the co-signature of a high university official";
- Scientists who work for commercial organizations, such as pharmaceutical companies, may access the data but cannot use it for "commercial purposes" (Hensley, Wall Street Journal, 2/8); and
Science will "hold a full Celera data set in escrow to be sure the other agreements are enforced over time" (Washington Post, 2/8).
Kennedy said that the agreement with Celera "fulfilled our policy completely to insist that authors provide free access to materials, methods and results for other to confirm or verify the reported conclusions of a paper" (Wall Street Journal, 2/8). Venter added, "We are keeping our word I gave two years ago when we started all this that I would make the data available" (Washington Post, 2/8).
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