And Of Course: 'Surprising' Openness And Sharing Of Data Leads To Advancements In Alzheimer's Research
from the well,-duh dept
I think everyone who reads Techdirt — including my parents — sent over this story today. The NY Times has an article about the rapid advancements in Alzheimer’s research after researchers agreed to immediately open up any data:
The key to the Alzheimer?s project was an agreement as ambitious as its goal: not just to raise money, not just to do research on a vast scale, but also to share all the data, making every single finding public immediately, available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world.
No one would own the data. No one could submit patent applications, though private companies would ultimately profit from any drugs or imaging tests developed as a result of the effort.
This should hardly be surprising — except to those who insist that without the possibility of patents no research would be done on curing diseases. In fact, the only thing that should be surprising about this is the fact that anyone is surprised by it, or that anyone continues to insist patents are necessary in this kind of research. We’ve already seen how large groups of scientists sharing data leads to faster advancement in those fields, and how data that is locked up leads to slower advancement in research.
Thankfully, it appears that some folks are getting the right idea about this, and have set up a similar deal for research into Parkinson’s disease, and perhaps it can finally lead to a rethinking of patenting federally funded drug research and (dare we hope?) a rolling back of the disastrous Bayh-Dole Act, which resulted in this desire of universities to lock up basic research.
But the key results here highlight the same point many of us have made for years: openness and sharing of the underlying data allows overall advancement in the space to move at a faster rate (prior to this openness, research in the area had apparently stalled out a bit). And, even with the open sharing of data and the lack of patents, there are still plenty of incentives to do the research, because they know that there is plenty of money to be made in selling the actual treatments that come out of this.