U should lead cancer research

President Barack Obama recently tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading what he called a “new moonshot” in the search for cancer cures. The assignment is just one part of a new federal research campaign targeting the disease. 
 
 
Foremost among the campaign’s goals is to encourage collaboration and data-sharing between universities, corporations and other groups dedicated to ending cancer. 
 
 
Such a goal could prove difficult. National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins has criticized researchers for neglecting to share their data with others. To address that problem, Biden’s Chief Policy Adviser Don Graves said the new program might seek to add more incentives to data-sharing. 
 
 
However, critics of the new program have argued this would do little to substantially address the lack of data-sharing, a problem that has long plagued academia. Researchers oftentimes feel protective of their intellectual property or fearful that someone will steal their findings, which discourages them from sharing their data with others.
 
 
While we understand the importance researchers place on their work’s privacy, we nevertheless feel data-sharing is an important measure to help ensure scientific progress on a large scale. 
 
 
With that in mind, we urge University of Minnesota researchers to take initiative in cooperating with the new federal program and to share their data with a wider array of researchers. The University’s Masonic Cancer Center and the school’s connections with Fairview are invaluable resources in the fight against cancer — we would like to see them benefit as many researchers as possible.