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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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New NIH Rules Promote Sharing of Tools
21 December 1999 7:00 pm
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week released controversial new guidelines that set ground rules for sharing research tools. The goal is to increase access to new materials for biomedical researchers, while not preventing inventors and entrepreneurs from withholding their products from scientists.
NIH director Harold Varmus, who next month takes up his new job as president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, is a longtime advocate of improving access to research tools, particularly transgenic mice. In 1997, he commissioned a review of federal patent law and urged his advisers to find ways to take lawyers out of the picture. Last year, the group proposed ways to encourage materials sharing, and Varmus asked the NIH Office of Technology Transfer to develop new guidelines based on those proposals. Last week Varmus authorized the release of the guidelines on the NIH Web site.
NIH lays out four principles for handling such research tools:
- Scientists who receive federal funds must avoid signing agreements that stifle academic communication. Any materials transfer agreements that impose "excessive" editorial control or might delay publication by more than 60 days are "unacceptable."
- Scientists should not seek or agree to exclusive licenses on "research tools," which are defined as inventions whose "primary usefulness" is "discovery" and not a product to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Academic scientists should "minimize administrative impediments" on materials exchanges by refusing "unacceptable conditions." For example, NIH says, scientists should avoid using materials linked to "reach-through" legal provisions claiming broad rights to all future discoveries that might be linked to use of the materials.
- Be nice. Academic institutions should be as flexible in dealing with others (including companies) as they would have others be with them.
University licensing officials generally support the goals, if not every detail, of the new policy. Implementing the policy may be difficult, warns Joyce Brinton, director of Harvard University's technology licensing office. "Unless the for-profit sector is willing to lessen its demands" for control over research tools, Brinton wrote to NIH earlier this year, NIH's objectives "will not be met."