March 4th, 2009
Or does it meet neither? Recently, Merck announced that it would be putting a vast database of highly consistent data about the biology of disease, as well as software tools and other resources to use it into the “public domain”. But on the web site run by the non-profit organization set up to manage these resources, Sage, it states “An incubation period of three to five years is anticipated in which new project data are generated, critical tools for building and mining disease models are developed and governing rules for sharing, accessing, and contributing to the platform are established.” So are the resources in the public domain or will there be rules for sharing and accessing them? Will the resources be available during the incubation period? Will only the resources generated during the incubation period be put into the public domain? How do they plan to get pharmaceutical companies to participate? Finally, does this look like a ton of publications to you? (Sorry, it has to be said: industry perspective of publications is a world apart from the academic community perspective.) Without some answers to these questions, this seems like little more than a company trying to get some positive PR out of what amounts to reducing staff to cut costs.
Update: Derek Lowe has a good discussion of the many challenges to the success of ventures like Sage.
Update2: Nature news article about Sage.