unpatented. The committee found that impediments to the exchange of biomedical research materials remain prevalent and may be increasing.
Several steps can be taken to prevent an increasingly problematic environment for research in genomics and proteomics as more knowledge is created, more patent applications are filed, and more restrictions are placed on the availability of and access to information and resources.
Many of the potential problems looming in the realm of genomics, proteomics, and intellectual property can be avoided if scientists and their institutions, whether public or private, follow the best practices already articulated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Research Council (NRC), and others. U.S. science has flourished because of its general openness and the sharing of data and research resources. This is not to suggest that legitimate proprietary interests in science do not exist, but rather is intended to highlight the argument that whenever possible, sharing is in the best interest of all science, both basic and applied. Several measures can be taken to facilitate the free exchange of materials and data.
From the inception of the HGP, public and commercial funders of these activities have emphasized that, in order to reap the maximum benefit to the public health, data should be freely available in the public domain. In addition, the NRC has repeatedly emphasized the need for sharing data. The council’s 2003 report Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials endorsed the uniform principle for sharing integral data and materials expeditiously:
Community standards for sharing publication-related data and materials should flow from the general principle that the publication of scientific information is intended to move science forward. More specifically, the act of publishing is a quid pro quo in which authors receive credit and acknowledgement in exchange for disclosure of their scientific findings. An author’s obligation is not only to release data and materials to enable others to verify or replicate published findings but also to provide them in a form on which other scientists can build with further research. All members of the scientific community—whether working in academia, government, or a commercial enterprise—have equal responsibility for upholding community standards as participants in the publication system, and all should be equally able to derive benefits from it (NRC, 2003, p. 4).
Nucleic acid sequences provide the fundamental starting point for describing and understanding the structure, function, and development of genetically diverse