Data-sharing helps researchers in Alzheimer's fight

Jason Karlawish has a message for drug researchers who are protective of discovery and development data: "Get over it."

Karlawish is an Alzheimer's researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. He explains in the New York Times that assembling Alzheimer's discovery and development data requires tremendous effort and promises such limited return that drug companies shy away. The researcher says shortening the onerous Alzheimer's drug development process requires a common data set, available to all, built from commercial and academic contributions.

The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative is just such collaboration. Both commercial and academic researchers are using its biomarker data, to the tune of 3,200 data-set downloads and almost a million brain scans. The initiative has yielded scientific papers on the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's; dozens of studies are testing treatments.

It's still an odd concept for scientists: surrendering ownership of data so that others may build on it. But the idea involved the National Institutes of Health as a go-between for the commercial and academic players.

- here's the NY Times article