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National Academies Panel Gives Nod to Continued Open Access to Pathogen Genomic Data

NEW YORK, Sept. 9 (GenomeWeb News) – A blue-ribbon panel today released a report that recommends no changes in policies that give unrestricted public access to genomic data on microbial pathogens, but said an advisory board should be created to review security implications as genome research continues.

In a report embargoed until this afternoon, a committee organized by the National Academies’ National Research Council and charged with reporting on how biological scientists view policies governing access, said that open access to such data is essential.

“The current vitality of the life sciences depends on a free flow of data and ideas, which is necessary if science is to deliver new biodefense capabilities and improve our ability to fight infectious disease,” the committee chairman, Stanley Falkow, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, said in a statement.

Completed genomic sequences of more than 100 microbial pathogens -- including smallpox, anthrax, and Ebola hemorrhagic fever – are publicly available in Internet-accessible databases and any genomic data produced using US federal funding are required to be made public.