Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 29, 2007

OA champion named to Google Health Advisory Council

Google has established a Google Health Advisory Council.  From the announcement:

Every day, people use Google to learn more about an illness, drug, or treatment, or simply to research a condition or diagnosis. We want to help users make more empowered and informed healthcare decisions, and have been steadily developing our ability to make our search results more medically relevant and more helpful to users.

Although we have some talented people here with extensive backgrounds in health policy and technology, this is an especially complex area. We often seek expertise from outside the company, and health is no exception. We have formed an advisory council, made up of healthcare experts from provider organizations, consumer and disease-based groups, physician organizations, research institutions, policy foundations, and other fields. The mission of the Google Health Advisory Council is broadly to help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development. It's a great privilege for us to work with this esteemed group.

Comment.  Open access to medical research and information ought to be a central concern of the new advisory council.  It's too early to say whether OA will make it to the council's agenda, but one reason to think it will is that Sharon Terry is a member.  Terry is the President and CEO of the Genetic Alliance and an energetic champion of OA.  See her case for OA in C&RL News for July/August 2005, based on her personal struggle to learn more the genetic disease afflicting her children.  Excerpt:

Although the United States wisely invests billions of dollars in biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we discovered that the results are locked up in very costly annual journal subscriptions and institutional licenses that can cost thousands of dollars for a single journal, or made scarce by use-limiting, per-article charges that can run as much as $30 to read a single study....If families are effectively barred from having access to these articles, what of the effect on researchers and clinicians with limited budgets striving to make new discoveries?...Our experience forces us to ask the hard question: Who really owns the NIH biomedical research we fund with our tax dollars?...It is now time to unlock this science and make it more accessible to all of us. Fortunately, change is in the works....Ultimately we would like all government agencies to require that published papers resulting from publicly funded research be deposited in PubMed Central, or similar repositories, with no embargo....We have no time to lose: we need public access to government-funded science now.