Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Permission Granted or Not

When the University of Pennsylvania's Daniel Himmelstein sought to bring together publicly available data on associations between drugs, genes, and diseases, he found that obtaining legal permission to do so was tricky, Nature News reports.

Many of the researchers Himmelstein contacted as he put together his Hetionet resource didn't realize that he even had to seek permission to reproduce their work, Nature News adds. Most researchers gave their permission, though one group never responded, three groups responded but in a vague way that didn't address the legal issue, and another group's dataset's license forbade re-use.

This confusion, Himmelstein tells Nature News, underscores that many researchers don't realize making data publicly available doesn't mean it can be re-published. And that may become an issue as "[s]cience is becoming more and more dependent on reusing data," he says.

Jonathan Band, an intellectual property lawyer with Policy Bandwidth in Washington, DC, tells Nature News that Himmelstein — who unveiled Hetionet in July with those three datasets whose re-use status was unclear — likely won't face any legal challenges. But, Himmelstein says he's concerned that the confusion and uncertainty will prevent others from re-using data and slow down the speed of science.

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.