Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Congratulations to the Science Commons team and everyone involved for this amazing project. It's great seeing the application of Creative Commons "architecture of openness" being applied in increasingly more sophisticated and diverse ways. Sharing data is really hard and really important and this is a huge step in the right direction.

Sage - Open Access Data from Merck

Posted on: February 27, 2009 12:33 PM, by John Wilbanks

Big news today at the CHI Medicine Tri-Conference. Merck has pledged to donate a remarkable resource to the commons - a vast database of highly consistent data about the biology of disease, as well as software tools and other resources to use it. The resources come out of work done at the Rosetta branch of Merck (you might remember them as the company whose sale capped a boom in bioinformatics) and is at its root a network biology system. In use inside Rosetta/Merck last year alone it led directly to a ton of publications.

This is all going to happen through the establishment of a non-profit organization called Sage to serve as the guardian of the resources. It's not about making a quick data dump onto the web, however. Sage is going to take a while during an "incubation period of three to five 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."

This is complex content and it's going to take some ongoing work to expose everything in a usable way. But the resources are headed for the public domain, and will be a remarkable capacity builder for those who currently work without the best tools and data as a base for their science. Sage means that we are now on the path to a world in which scientists working on HIV in Brazilian non-profit research institutes (like my mother-in-law) will be able to use the same powerful computational disease biology tools as those inside Merck. I'm very much looking forward to living in that world.


Also, on the topic of Science Commons, I just realized I hadn't blogged about GreenXchange. See more about it on the Creative Commons blog.

1 Comment

Great news that Merck have given access to data. They are well respected in many circles and may encourage others to follow their lead.