Open Source BiologyIn a nutshell, Open Source Biology refers to the sharing of reagents, ideas, databases and expertise without boundaries or exclusivity. This philosophy is at the center of our mission of ‘advancing science to heal the world’. All CReM research initiatives are thus pursued with our overarching mission in mind. In keeping with this purpose, we embrace an Open Source approach to scientific research, endorsing the free sharing of our published reagents without delays or constricting material transfer agreements (MTA). Our most important protocols and vector sequences are also posted on our website for free download, as one illustration of our Open Source philosophy. We realize that at times our mission and philosophy is at odds with today’s focus on protecting intellectual property and the needs of institutions and industry. Thus, we have written a constitution, documenting principles that guide our decisions and approaches to collaborations. While our ‘Open Source Biology’ approach is currently exceptional, we encourage fellow academic scientists to join us in our approach, and we hope that with time this approach will become the mainstream of academic medicine where discoveries and reagents are truly ‘for all mankind’.
The CReM’s Open Source Biology Approach: Guiding Principles
Principle 1: Reagents, tools, vectors, cell lines, and protocols generated by the CReM and requested by academic researchers or not-for-profit organizations will be shared by the CReM as quickly as possible without charge (beyond shipping costs).
Principle 2: When entering collaborations or sharing reagents, tools, vectors, or cell lines with industry partners, we will consider entering into MTA or other legal intellectual property agreements as we understand that the differing needs of industry partners requires them to have legal IP protection in place before proceeding with collaborations.
Principle 3: All human and animal research will only be conducted with institutional regulatory approval, such as IACUC and IRB oversight.
Principle 4: Published protocols, vector sequences, and bioinformatics databases (e.g. microarray files), will be either posted on our website for free download, posted on the national Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) for free download, or shared free of charge by email request with academic and not for profit researchers.
Other Open Source ProponentsFor more information and further reading on the Open Source concept, please see the following sources:
The Hinxton Group:
The Hinxton Group website is a clearing house, facilitating communication among scientists, policymakers, journal editors and the public about international scientific collaboration in the area of stem cell research: http://www.hinxtongroup.org/au_pscdg_cs.html
The Commons Principles of Sage Bionetworks:
The Sage Bionetworks Commons is an open source computational environment being developed to share mega-datasets and advanced tools in order to facilitate cooperative compilation, comparison and evaluation of network models of disease. A set of Principles was developed at the 2011 Commons Congress to communicate the vision and to guide the behavior of those working in the Commons: http://sagebase.org/commons/index.php