Duke Law Faculty Integral to New Center for the Study of Public Genomics

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The Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy’s Center for Genome Ethics, Law and Policy (GELP) has been awarded $4.8 million from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy to establish a new interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Public Genomics. This will make the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy a formally designated national Center of Excellence for Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research.

Duke Law faculty are “absolutely central” to the new center’s core research projects, said GELP director Robert Cook-Deegan, M.D., who has close ties to Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Cook-Deegan’s own research contribution to the Center will be policy histories of DNA sequencing, micro-array technologies, and the information-sharing practices for each. Duke Law Professor Arti Rai will investigate how open-source data sharing, modeled on software, might be applied to genomics research as an alternative to the patenting tradition. Jerome Reichman, Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law, and Tracy Lewis, Martin Black Professor of Economics and Director of the Innovation Center at the Fuqua School of Business, who has a cross-appointment at Duke Law, will explore how a regime of compulsory liability rules could work as an alternative to property rights in the context of genomic science and industry. The Center also includes faculty from Duke’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy, School of Medicine, and Department of English, as well as Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics, with its DNA Patent Database.

“To do good work in this area, you need business, law, science, and ethics,” said Cook-Deegan. “Duke has pulled this all together; it’s extraordinary.”

A feature stories on the new Center for the Study of Public Genomics and the research projects being undertaken by Duke Law faculty will be forthcoming in the Fall 2004 issue of Duke Law Magazine.

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