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UPDATE: Science Says to Release Terms of Celera Agreement Only Upon Publication as Celera Seeks to Allay Fears

This story has been updated from a previous version.

NEW YORK, Dec 12 – Barbara Jasny, supervisory senior editor at Science, wrote in an e-mail to GenomeWeb on Tuesday that the journal would not make the terms of the material transfer agreement for access to Celera's data public until the paper is published.

" Science and Celera have been negotiating for mutually agreeable terms," she wrote, adding that the terms are being discussed with " many advisors."

Earlier on Tuesday, Celera sought to allay researchers’ fears that stipulations for retrieving human genome sequence data would limit research by saying that the scientific community would have free and unencumbered access to the material.

“This data will be available at where all an academic will need to do is click through and agree to a non-redistribution agreement (ensuring that they will not redistribute, repackage and sell the [C]elera data in a commercial venture) and they are then free to access this information as they wish,” Heather Kowalski, Celera’s spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail to GenomeWeb.

“It is important to note that they are free to make discoveries and publish or even patent those discoveries as [C]elera will NOT seek any reach through royalties,” she wrote.

On Monday two leading bioinformaticists issued a call to arms in response to Science’s decision to allow Celera to submit its genome data under relatively restrictive circumstances. In a letter distributed to the scientific community Ewan Birney of the European Bioinformatics Institute and Sean Eddy of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Washington University wrote that restrictions on redistribution would present a significant obstacle to bioinformatics research.

They anticipated that under the deal researchers might have to get a legal review before publishing results and might even face allegations of redistributing primary data, if the analysis was large-scale and detailed.

Kowalski said, however, that the terms Celera sought were only designed to fend off commercial competitors.

“The only thing we are seeking to prevent is other commercial entities/genome information companies from repackaging our data and selling it in competition with us,” Kowalski said.

“We can publish this genome and have it available to academics and live up to our promise and (we firmly believe) obligation and yet still be a viable business.”

Kowalski added that Celera would monitor access to make sure that companies were not violating its terms. She also said that the company hoped Congress would pass “adequate laws” to protect databases.

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