June 12th, 2009 by Kaitlin Thaney
A new editorial on the sharing of biological materials, specifically lab mice, is now available in Nature. The editorial “The sharing principle” addresses the conclusion of a recent workshop in Rome hosted by CASIMIR – a EU project working to “coordinate and sustain mouse resources internationally.”
The May meeting focused on sharing scientific knowledge – in this case mouse lines and resources, a tacit form of knowledge critical to the scientific research cycle. Our legal counsel, Thinh Nguyen joined the event, presenting our position on data sharing for genetic mouse material and our Materials Transfer work. The event brought together a wide array of participants, from various continents and organizations (funding agencies, academics, publishers, mouse repositories, etc.)
Their conclusion – the sharing problem needs to be addressed immediately if we are to make use of the genomic output and data, increasing exponentially as efforts become more coordinated, technology advances, and the process becomes cheaper and more efficient.
This should start with the journals and funding agencies, the author posits, by putting in place stricter policies requiring authors as a condition of publication / funding to make mice available in a public repository, or at the very least, freely available to other labs.
The facilities, coordination and technology all exist to make this happen. Our Materials Transfer work plays a part in this, allowing for those materials to be tagged, discovered and seamlessly transfered using standard, modular contracts that help clear up some of the clutter in the technology transfer system. All with the same goal in mind – to further lower the barrier and transaction cost to transferring scientific materials. All it takes are users willing to share.