The traditional way of sharing human genes continues to be popular... but geneticist David Altshuler recognizes that with the vast amount of genome data now available, standards are urgently needed by researchers.
He notes two linked reasons why genomic data isn't currently shared. First, researchers began by focusing on single diseases, and identified only with their home institution. Second, technical standards didn't exist to enable sharing.
As in so many areas of endeavor, the players involved have to recognize that they're involved in a shared enterprise before they can collaborate effectively. But perhaps Altshuler is also hinting that if a common technical standard precedes that dawning awareness, then collaboration will be accelerated.
This is a striking thought. Consider money. Because money already exists as the standard commercial infrastructure, you can set up any kind of business. You don't have to invent the whole payment and trust part first.
Maybe if genome researchers had been able – or even obligated – to record their data in a common format from the get go, they'd be farther along the road to gene-based therapies.
Today, there's no barrier to finding and deploying a standard right from the start of a project. It's normal practice to research a subject on the web before you buy something or visit some place. So it's also good professional practice to go out and grab all the standards you can whenever you start anything. And if the relevant standard doesn't exist, you also have the means of creating a community standard at your fingertips. Science Insider