Sharing by Law: Open Science Takes a Legal Approach

“‘A partnership between the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at the University of Toronto and U of T’s Faculty of Law has yielded a new concept that could change the way scientists share research tools. Aled Edwards, who leads the SGC, is lead author of a recent paper that applies the concept of a legal trust to open research reagents ­— substances that scientists use to test biological hypotheses and give insight into potential new therapies. Under this model, the researchers who receive reagents would become ‘trustees’ obligated to treat the materials as public goods. The article is published in Science Translational Medicine….Academic researchers use public funds to create reagents to use the lab. Currently any reagent created at any University is legally the property of the institution and is shared only under contract. Although this is the status quo, many of us believe science shouldn’t belong to an institution or an individual, but to society and that our work should be viewed as a public good,’ says Edwards, who is also a professor in the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Molecular Genetics and an expert in open science drug discovery.”