Poynder interviews Leslie Chan: minding the 10/90 gap

June 20th, 2008 by dwentworth

Richard Poynder today published yet another remarkable — nay, superbinterview. This time, his subject is Leslie Chan, whom Poynder describes as the “unsung hero” of the open access (OA) movement. Chan works tirelessly to increase the visibility and impact of scientific research from developing countries — one way to bridge the “10/90” gap. What’s that, you ask?

Explains Poynder:

The 10/90 gap is the phenomenon in which 90% of the world’s R&D money is spent on the 10% of diseases that primarily affect people in developed countries, while only 10% is spent on diseases that mainly affect the 90% of people who live in the developing world. […]

Of course there is more than one reason for this dollar-spend inequity (including the fact that Western-based pharmaceutical companies know they cannot make a large profit from selling drugs to treat diseases primarily affecting poor people), but since much of the research into the neglected diseases is undertaken in developing countries themselves, and the findings published in local journals with limited circulations, the relative invisibility of that research makes it far harder to get funding.

And since research tends to be a cumulative process — in which researchers build on the work of previous research in order to arrive at new understandings, and eventual breakthroughs — the invisibility (and consequent shortfall in funding) of [developing countries] research inevitably lengthens the time before cures are developed for the neglected diseases.

Science Commons is working to make it faster, easier and more cost-efficient to find cures for neglected and orphan diseases. On July 16-17, we’re holding a workshop in Barcelona, Spain, in conjunction with the ESOF 2008 conference. The aim:  to define the basic principles that would enable the emergence of global, collaborative infrastructure for accelerating research. We’re honored to have Leslie Chan join us to talk about OASIS, a resource to provide practical steps for implementing OA.

If you’re interested in coming to the workshop, we invite you to register here (the meeting is free and open to the public, but seating is limited). We hope to see you there.

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