Data sharing and intellectual property in a genomic epidemiology network: policies for large-scale research collaboration
Genomic epidemiology is a field of research that seeks to improve the prevention and management of common diseases through an understanding of their molecular origins. It involves studying thousands of individuals, often from different populations, with exacting techniques. The scale and complexity of such research has required the formation of research consortia. Members of these consortia need to agree on policies for managing shared resources and handling genetic data. Here we consider data-sharing and intellectual property policies for an international research consortium working on the genomic epidemiology of malaria. We outline specific guidelines governing how samples and data are transferred among its members; how results are released into the public domain; when to seek protection for intellectual property; and how intellectual property should be managed. We outline some pragmatic solutions founded on the basic principles of promoting innovation and access.