New models for research and innovation are emerging in the life sciences, with emphasis placed on collaboration and partnership between a variety of stakeholders, including academia, government, industry and non-governmental organisations. At the same time, a deluge of biological data is being generated around the world, primarily due to the advent of high-throughput technologies such as next-generation sequencing, RNAseq, and array based gene expression analysis.
As a result, the traditional modes of sharing data and bioresources are no longer adequate to the scale or nature of the task required. Funding agencies, but more centrally the investigators themselves, have realised that great added value is to be obtained by sharing data and resources. This realisation has resulted in shifts in policy and investigator behaviour towards a collaborative and integrative model for basic and translational research. To support such large-scale, distributed research efforts, research communities have established institutions and infrastructure for the sharing of data and resources.
The theme linking these endeavours in data and bioresource sharing is the concept of “the commons”. Here we explore the term “commons” in the context of bioresources for studying mouse models of human disease. The concept of the “commons” recognises that not all of the barriers to building shared research resources are technological, which include the complexities of constructing a conditional knockout resource, bioinformatics, or supporting information and communication technologies. Instead, the economic, legal, cultural and behavioural aspects of sharing resources also need to be taken into account.
Tania Bubela has a PhD (Biology, University of Sydney, Australia) and JD (University of Alberta, Canada) and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Canada.
Dr Paul Schofield has a DPhil in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford, is Reader in Biomedical Informatics in the Department of Physiology Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Dr Cami Ryan is with the Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan, Canada.
Rhiannon Adamsis an intellectual property lawyer with Parlee McLaws LLP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
David Einhorn is house counsel for The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA.
© 2011 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.