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White House Open Science 'Champions' Highlights Genomic Data Pioneers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Obama Administration tomorrow will honor several genomics and molecular biology researchers who have focused on making large and complex sets of biological data open and widely accessible to the larger research community.

The list of 13 scientists who will receive the Open Science Champions of Change honor at the White House tomorrow includes seven genomic and molecular scientists including Atul Butte, David Altshuler, David Lipman, Drew Endy, John Quackenbush, Kathy Giusti, and Stephen Friend, among other investigators in a range of fields.

The Champions of Change program was launched as part of President Obama's Winning the Future Initiative, which highlights individuals, businesses, and organizations who make positive impacts on communities. This group of investigators and entrepreneurs are being singled out for their efforts to make open sharing of scientific data a reality, a goal that the Obama administration has promoted as a priority for enabling and enhancing scientific innovation.

"Open sharing of research results is a proven strategy for driving scientific change," the White House said in a statement. "For example, the rapid and open sharing of genomic data from the Human Genome Project revolutionized biomedical research, and spurred major growth in the biotechnology industry."

Butte is a pediatrician and geneticist at Stanford University and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. He also is a founder of the genomic interpretation company Personalis, the prenatal diagnostics company Carmenta, and NuMedii, which searches public data to discover new drugs.

Altshuler, a founding member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and MIT, will receive the honor on behalf of the Global Alliance for Sharing Genomic and Clinical Data. He has been a lead investigator on the SNP Consortium, the International HapMap Project, and the 1,000 Genomes Project.

Lipman is founding director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. He also launched PubMed Central to provide free electronic access to research, and he and his staff built up GenBank, the largest public DNA database in the world.

Endy, a Stanford University bioengineer, also is co-founder and president of BioBricks, a non-profit created to make biotechnology information widely available in an ethical manner. He also has supported and helped lead the iGEM.org biotechnology competition, OpenWetWare.org, a resource for sharing lab results and methods, and BIOFAB.org, a public domain factory for engineering biological parts.

Quackenbush is a professor of biostatistics and computational biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health. He co-founded GenoSpace, a firm that develops software for genomic data handling and analysis, and in particular created portals to support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation's CoMMpass study.

Giusti is the founder and CEO of MMRF, which launched the CoMMpass study, which seeks to define the molecular subtypes of the disease and to place the resulting data, along with related clinical information, in an open-access platform.

Friend is president of Sage Bionetworks, which aims to redefine how complex biological data are gathered, used, and shared. He started employing large data sets and integrative systems biology approaches for studying disease in the mid-1990s.

These honorees, along with six others in various other scientific fields, will be honored by the White House at a live event tomorrow afternoon.

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