The Duke Center for Public Genomics was established in 2004 to explore the value of "open science" norms and practices, as well as to study the benefits and risks of intellectual property protections in genomics, through historical, legal, economic, and empirical research. The Center addresses innovation and intellectual property (IP) as it relates to biomedical research, and specifically, to genomic research. One of our goals is to gather and analyze empirical data to inform the debates over the proper role of IP in genetic research. For example, in the early years of gene patenting, a vigorous debate arose whether gene patenting was necessary to protect investment and thus further innovation, or whether gene patenting was harmful, blocking access to genes and necessary elements of research, and ultimately stifling innovation. Both sides of the debate voiced powerful theoretical analyses, yet use of actual real-world data of the effects of gene patents was almost nonexistent. In the various projects in our Center, we have gathered and analyzed different kinds of data to inform and reshape the nature of the debate. Unsurprisingly, we have found the effect of IP rules on research to be much more complicated that the polarized debate has suggested, and our policy engagement efforts have involved working to get both our data and our analyses to the right policy makers.
CpG 1.0 (2004-2009): In its first five years, the CpG produced a fascinating picture of the problems and opportunities created by the intersection of genomic research and intellectual property rights; in many ways, our understanding was transformed. Some issues that consumed considerable academic and popular attention were revealed to be less problematic than had been assumed, while others—though neglected in scholarly and policy debates—turned out to be considerably more serious. An interdisciplinary study of the innovation process—ranging from case studies and legal analysis, to empirical research on science practice and commercialization—revealed much of interest to both scholars and policy makers about the ways that legal rights and institutional arrangements affect innovation.
CpG 2.0 (2010-2015): During its next five years, the Center will comprise five mutually dependent research projects, and will continue to be a center for research and scholarship on innovation in genomics, with specific attention to the role of intellectual property.
The Center for Public Genomics is a Center of Excellence in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Research co-funded by the Department of Energy and the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.