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Statement on genome data release

The Wellcome Trust is a major source of funds for the international cooperative endeavour to sequence the human genome, the Human Genome Project. It has committed some £200 million to human genome sequencing at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, part of the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton near Cambridge, to enable the Sanger Institute to sequence one-third of the human genome by 2003.

To ensure that this sequence information leads as rapidly as possible to advances in healthcare, the Wellcome Trust believes that genome sequence data should be made freely available as rapidly as possible.

The principles set out below were established at the first International Strategy Meeting on Human Genome Sequencing, held in Bermuda in February 1996, and endorsed at the Second International Strategy Meeting, held in Bermuda the following year.

Primary genomic sequence should be in the public domain

It was agreed that all human genomic sequence information, generated by centres funded for large-scale human sequencing, should be freely available and in the public domain in order to encourage research and development, and to maximise its benefit to society.

Primary genomic sequence should be rapidly released

Sequence assemblies should be released as soon as possible; in some centres, assemblies of greater than 1KB would be released automatically on a daily basis. Finished annotated sequence should be submitted immediately to the public databases.

It was agreed that these principles should apply for all human genomic sequence generated by large-scale sequencing centres, funded for the public good, in order to prevent such centres establishing a privileged position in the exploitation and control of human sequence information.

Coordination

In order to promote coordination of activities, it was agreed that large-scale sequencing centres should inform HUGO (Human Genome Organisation) of their intention to sequence particular regions of the genome. HUGO would present this information on their world wide web page and direct users to the web pages of individual centres for more detailed information regarding the current status of sequencing in specific regions. This mechanism should enable centres to declare their intentions in a general framework while also allowing more detailed interrogation at the local level.

These principles were endorsed by all participants. These included officers from, and scientists supported by, the Wellcome Trust, the UK Medical Research Council, the National Institutes of Health NCHGR (National Center for Human Genome Research), the DOE (US Department of Energy), the German Human Genome Programme, the European Commission, HUGO and the Human Genome Project of Japan.

Further details

Information about data release and the Human Genome Project can be found on the HUGO website.

See the Sanger Institute website for more information about the Sanger Institute's human genome sequencing work.

Sharing Data from Large-scale Biological Research Projects - a full report on an international meeting held in January 2003 to discuss pre-publication data release.

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