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UMSOM Scientists Call for Unrestricted Usage of Public Genome Data

February 12, 2019 | Joanne Morrison

Owen White, PhD

IGS Experts Assert That Scientific Progress Relies on Access to Genome Data and Call for Clear Guidelines on Usage

Researchers at the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) called for open access to genome data, stating that unrestricted usage is needed for progress in combatting the world’s most serious diseases.

Scientific progress relies on unconditional access to data that is hosted in open and accessible repositories, a group of genomic research leaders that included top IGS faculty stated in an article published in Science. They noted that while there are valid concerns and misconceptions about the rights of data producers, what is needed are clear, unambiguous guidelines for data usage.

“Advancing the genomics field forward requires strong affirmative policies towards open and unrestricted data sharing to promote inclusive community-driven research, translational science, as well as training activities,” said Owen White, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Associate Director at IGS, and UMSOM Director of Bioinformatics.

In addition to Dr. White, other investigators at IGS who contributed to the paper include Claire Fraser, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and Director of IGS; Jacques Ravel, PhD, Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Associate Director of Genomics at IGS, and Lynn Schriml, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health.

The scientists asserted that once data are publicly released following the data release rules of the agency that funded the project, they should be freely available for use without any restrictions or conditions. Additionally, the policies that govern data release should be applied uniformly, as opposed to being subject to nuanced interpretation on a project-by-project basis.

“Data access is critically important in advancing research to combat the most complex health issues such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders,” said UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, University Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically-based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $530 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu/

About the Institute for Genome Sciences

The Institute for Genome Sciences, founded in 2007, is an international research center within the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Comprised of an interdisciplinary, multidepartment team of investigators, the Institute uses the powerful tools of genomics and bioinformatics to understand genome function in health and disease, to study molecular and cellular networks in a variety of model systems, and to generate data and bioinformatics resources of value to the international scientific community. igs.umaryland.edu

Contact

Joanne Morrison
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
University of Maryland School of Medicine
jmorrison@som.umaryland.edu
Office: (410) 706-2884
Mobile: (202) 841-3369

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