Feb 10, 2006    #023
Contact: Noemi Rojas
(816) 235-1520

Patents impeding biomedical research?

At an international science gathering next week, a symposium of experts will examine the debate over whether excessively broad patent rights are impeding biomedical research.

The symposium will be led by University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor Christopher Holman, Ph.D., J.D., an authority on biotechnology patent law. He said the extent to which fundamental biological information is regulated is a hot issue, expected to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court soon.

Holman’s discussion will touch on science policy topics such as the patenting of human genes, a phenomenon that has been going on for years.

“Some say the practice impedes biomedical research, such as that involving embryonic stem cells and the human genome, which could lead to lifesaving cures for diseases such as cancer,” said Holman.

Engaging in the debate will be F. Scott Kieff from Washington University School of Law; John Walsh from University of Illinois; and Barbara Caufield of Affymetrix Inc., a company that creates breakthrough tools to drive the genomic revolution.

Other topics for discussion: current science policy rationales and the proposals to revise the system; the patenting of genes, biological information, and living organisms; and the relationship between intellectual property and collaboration.

The symposium will take place from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Feb. 19 as part of a five-day meeting of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). It’s being held this year in St. Louis from Feb. 16-20. Thousands of top scientists, science policy experts, educators, students, and journalists attend the annual meeting.

The AAAS is a distinguished association that publishes the peer-reviewed general science journal Science. The AAAS serves some 272 affiliated societies and academies of science. It has been in existence for 150 years.

For a localized enterprise story on the issue of how patents may be impeding science and biotechnology innovation, other experts and organizations in Kansas City relevant to the debate include:

• The Center for Practical Bioethics raises and responds to ethical issues in health and healthcare.

• The Stowers Institute for Medical Research conducts basic research aimed at understanding how the genes and proteins of multicellular organisms work.

• Midwest Research Institute is a center for applied research and technology development that pioneers efforts in environmental and cancer research to drug development work and technology.

Holman is a resident of Leawood, Kansas. He attended law school at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, and his Ph.D. is in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California at Davis.

UMKC is one of four University of Missouri campuses. It is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences and urban affairs.

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).



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