Open source and open medicine take centre stage at UN research symposium

Can an Intellectual Property regime designed to protect private interests be reformed to "lock everyone in"? What results when government authorities promote free, open source software in their jurisdictions? Who (if anyone) should own or control access to the human genome sequence? What parallels can be drawn with the fundamental principles of 'openness' for science and society as a whole?

These and a host of other issues will be explored at a research symposium titled Challenging Intellectual Property: Access to Knowledge Issues in Open Source and Medicine that takes place on Thursday 13 April 2006 at the UN Headquarters in New York. The event is organized by the United Nations University at the United Nations, New York, and United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and social Research and training centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) in the Netherlands.

The Symposium will analyse the role of Free/Open Source Software and other collaborative models of knowledge production in economic development. It will also assess the effectiveness of several alternative global financing mechanisms that have been proposed to boost health research and development, and broaden access to affordable drugs for the world's poorest populations.

The speakers include:

  • Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, Senior Researcher, UNU-MERIT;
  • Louis-Dominique Oudraogo, retiring Inspector, the UN Joint Inspection Unit;
  • Tim Hubbard, Head of Human Genome Analysis, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK;
  • Renato da Silveira Martini, Director-General, ITI (National Institute of IT, Brazil).

At a time of growing economic and social disparities within and across countries and regions - coupled with diminishing returns on R&D investments despite stronger intellectual property protection a range of governments and non-governmental groups in technologically advanced and developing countries alike have called for

Contact: Louise Bergstrom
United Nations University

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