News of the WeekGenomics

University Company to Exploit Heart Data

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Science  30 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5475, pp. 2301-2303
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5475.2301

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BOSTON-- This month, Boston University, which directs the Framingham Heart Study, a massive government effort begun in 1948 to monitor the cardiovascular health of more than 10,000 residents of this suburb of Boston, announced plans to form a bioinformatics company that will mine the data. The university will own 20% of Framingham Genomic Medicine Inc., which hopes to raise $21 million to begin modernizing the immense database and packaging it in a format that will be valuable to the pharmaceutical industry. The plan raises a host of difficult ethical issues, including patient privacy, academic conflicts of interest, and reciprocal value to the Framingham residents whose medical data will form the basis for the new enterprise.