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Researchers Call for Increased Federal Support for Biomedical Repositories

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Several dozen researchers have signed a White House petition that calls on the current administration to increase federal support for publicly accessible biomedical repositories.

The petition describes cuts in federal funding for biomedical databases as “shortsighted,” arguing that “these are data sets generated at considerable public expense, and they underlie a great deal of on-going research.”

Some notable casualties of contracting research budgets in the last several years include the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s Short Read Archive (BI 2/18/2011) and the Arabidopsis Information Resource database (BI 12/4/2009)

In addition, five databases — Protégé, BioMagResBank, Repbase, REBASE, and CASP — are currently at risk to lose their funding due to a 2007 decision by the National Library of Medicine to de-emphasize funding for data infrastructure in favor of informatics research.

The petition argues that providing continued support for publicly accessible biomedical data repositories “can be accomplished without compromising patient privacy, will insure that the results of taxpayer funded research remain available and useful, and will speed the discovery of new drugs, new cures for disease and the development of more effective health care for all Americans.”

The petition has a goal of obtaining 25,000 signatures by Oct. 7.

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