Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, December 07, 2008

OA viral-discovery center coming to UCSF

Carrie Peyton Dahlberg, Virus hunter looks to make more medical breakthroughs at UCSF, Sacramento Bee, December 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

Joe DeRisi sometimes pays a peculiar price for fame.  The man who invented the virus-seeking "ViroChip," who helped identify the cause of SARS and who won a MacArthur "genius" award in pursuit of the secrets of infection has become a magnet for medical mysteries.

Every month or so, someone gets past security, up the gleaming stairways of UC San Francisco's Genetech Hall, and into DeRisi's lab with the same distraught demand: Test me.  DeRisi gently sends them away. He runs a research lab, not a clinic....

That could change early next year, when UCSF launches a center for viral diagnosis and discovery. Its ambition is to hunt down more causes of pneumonia, encephalitis and other lethal and disabling conditions whose origins too often baffle doctors, even as their patients are slipping away.

"Our plan is: Make it open to everybody," from doctors with a single troubling case to large research efforts such as the state-run California Enchephalitis Project, said Dr. Charles Chiu, an infectious disease specialist who'll head the center....

While immersed in malaria [research], DeRisi also has written software, built robots and created devices that have made possible broader virus testing, including his 2003 detection of the virus responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Often, he posts methods and findings on his Web site or publishes in open-access journals that don't demand costly subscription fees.

"He's incredibly generous," said Chiu, "a very big fan of open-source publishing, making scientific data available to researchers everywhere."

Chiu hopes the same spirit of openness will be a key part of the viral discovery and diagnosis center that will rely on DeRisi's ViroChip, and other detective techniques, to hunt new causes of age-old ills....

PS:  Also see our past posts on DeRisi's OA work.