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DNA Sequence Data Sharing Emphasized by INSDC Advisors

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Members of the advisory committee to the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC) published a letter this week reminding the research committee of the importance of depositing complete DNA sequence data in its databases upon their publication.

The INSDC — an initiative of the DNA Data Bank of Japan, the European Nucleotide Archive, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information — was established to promote the collection and dissemination of DNA and RNA sequence databases. 

In its letter, which appeared simultaneously in Science and Nature, the INSDC advisory committee noted that access to its databases — including GenBank — is free and unrestricted, and highlighted the INSDC's creation of large raw data repositories such as the Sequence Read Archive at the NCBI and the European Nucleotide Archive at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute. 

Such access, the advisors wrote, enables researchers to plan experiments and analyze existing data, and is crucial for data reproducibility and reuse. While most journals require a database accession number as a condition of publication, and there have been calls from both within and outside of the biomedical field for greater data sharing.

For instance, Heidi Rehm, director of the Laboratory for Molecular Medicine at the Partners HealthCare Personalized Medicine, has pushed for accrediting organizations and US regulators to require that labs share genomic variant data. And this week, Vice President Joe Biden urged attendees at the 7th annual Health Datapalooza conference to step up efforts to share data to help advance the fight against cancer. 

The INSDC advisory committee also stated in its letter that while the unrestricted release of sequence data from human subjects may not always be possible, journal editors should insist on data sharing through other repositories that are not part of the INSDC.

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