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This Heart's Not for Sale

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Framingham Genomics Medicine, a company founded with $21 million in venture capital and led in part by Fred Ledley, former CEO and president of Variagenics, plans to close its doors. Formed to organize data from the 52-year-old Framingham Heart Study, the company was forced to disband after Boston University and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute denied it access to the data.

The conflict between the study’s insistence on free academic access and the company’s need for profitability led to an impasse between the groups, says Kevin Carleton, a spokesman for BU. The for-profit closed its doors when academia won out.

That doesn’t mean that BU’s original idea for data organization has been totally thwarted. Study data has not been assembled in a way that facilitates “aggressive analysis,” says Carleton. “Much of [the data] was collected in the pre-computer era,” he explains. In a letter to some 6,000 study subjects, Claude Lenfant, director of NHLBI, and Aram Chobanian, dean of BU’s School of Medicine, write that the effort will continue “through more traditional avenues, such as grants, contracts, and donations.”

— Marian Moser Jones

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