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This workshop is coordinated by the Research Unit on Biodiversity of the Centre for Philosophy of Law, an autonomous research Institute of the catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, and the Laboratory of Microbiology at the Ghent University, and carried out under the Interuniversity Attraction Poles programme financed by the Belgian Science Policy and the REFGOV integrated project of the 6th European Framework Program in Research and Development



In the framework of a pilot project of the European Biological Resources Platform, the Laboratory of Microbiology (Prof. Jean Swings, UGent, Belgium) and the Centre for the Philosophy of Law (Prof. Jacques Lenoble, UCL, Belgium) are organizing a high-level closed workshop of approximately 40 participants on “Exploring the microbiological commons. bioinformatics and intellectual property rights in sharing biological information”.

At present the widespread national, international and cross-disciplinary sharing of research data is no longer merely a technological matter, but also a complex social process in which researchers have to balance different pressures and interests. As scientists and user groups become better connected with each other, particularly through the Internet, and as research focuses on issues of global importance, such as climate change, human health and biodiversity, there is a growing need to systematically address data access and sharing issues beyond national jurisdiction and thereby create greater value from international co-operation. The goal should be to ensure that both researchers and the broader public receive the optimum return on public investments, and to build on the value chain of investments in research and research data.

The pilot project on « exploring the microbiological commons » focuses on one main component of this ongoing transformation of the innovation chain. It aims at constituting a reference group for a strategic research program on bioinformatics and intellectual property rights for knowledge generation, data access and data sharing. This endeavor supposes to take stock of the new developments within bioinformatics itself and to gather relevant expertise on the governance issues involved.

The workshop is organized as a closed meeting and is on an invitation basis only. A two page abstract is expected 1 month before the conference and will be published on the preparatory website. A selection of the contributions to the workshop will be published as an edited volume or in a special issue of a journal.

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