IMAGE group's DNA libraries are made freely available to other researchers, as long as they, too, pass on information to the public.
In less than two years, a research initiative begun by four geneticists has grown from an ad hoc collaboration to an international cooperative effort to freely share complementary DNA (cDNA) clone libraries. To date, in excess of 100,000 clones from the Integrated Molecular Analysis of Genome Expression (IMAGE) Consortium have been sent to more than 40 facilities worldwide.

Scientists describe the consortium's informal approach to genetic information sharing as "refreshing," especially in light of recent debates over intellectual property rights derived from genome research. More important, they say, the widespread disbursement of IMAGE cDNA clones decreases the time it takes investigators to extract information from the human genetic code, thus greatly facilitating the hunt for new genes and, ultimately, new drugs.

IMAGE INITIATORS: Consortium cofounders, from left,...

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