Open Source Biotechnology Platforms for Global Health and Development: Two Case Studies

Hassan Masum, Karl Schroeder, Myra Khan, Abdallah Daar


Using a case study approach, we examine the potential of open source biotechnology platforms for global health and development. Two initiatives relying on collaborative online platforms are analyzed: projects by the nonprofit institute Cambia and India’s Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) project. Cambia is addressing neglected diseases by making relevant patent information available through both its Patent Lens project and its Initiative for Open Innovation. OSDD complements this initiative through a collaborative platform and open source practices to accelerate drug development for neglected diseases. Cambia as well as OSDD, while sharing the goal of addressing basic needs of the developing world, have each implemented principles of the open source movement in different ways. We find that, in open source biotechnology for global health and development, at least three linked senses of “open” should be considered: open access, open licensing, and open collaborative platforms. We conclude that biotechnology for global health and development can move ahead through its own version of open source practices and collaborative online platforms.


policy; development; IT; open source; collaboration; biotechnology; global health; Cambia; OSDD; international development

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