Nature, 30 August 2006

Boosting access to disease data


A new agreement by stakeholders to improve the sharing of flu data should eventually stimulate research on many infectious diseases. Now to make it work.

A scheme to end secrecy in the sharing of avian-flu samples and data, announced online last week in Nature, addresses one aspect of the challenge. The Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) is modelled on guidelines for sharing data in large-scale biological research.

It is encouraging that so many leading flu researchers have signed up to its principles, under which countries and scientists would immediately share pre-publication samples and data, provided that all those who seek access abide by rules on intellectual property and the attribution of credit.