University College Dublin and Genuity Science, have announced a collaborative agreement as part of a large scale population research programme across more than 60 diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

The agreement signed in March of last year outlines the duties, obligations, intellectual property and other rights of the University and of the company. However, this agreement is being referred to as restrictive by experts within the field. The collaboration seeks to analyse the relationship between genetic variation and human disease in 10% of the Irish population.

In speaking on the agreement, Orla Feely, UCD Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact stated that “this agreement is the culmination of extensive discussions around how opportunities in genomic medicine and its benefits to patients can be realised in a careful and appropriate way”.

In speaking with, an anonymous expert made comments on the restrictive nature of the agreement, to which Genuity Science have disagreed.

There are a number of ‘restrictive’ conditions within the agreement, according to the expert. One example of such a restrictive covenant is that the institute, research team and investigator “shall not use the bio-samples, the participant data collection forms, the GMI databases (partially or wholly) or the research results for any purpose other than as specified and agreed under this agreement”.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in the UK have published seven models of research collaborative agreements for universities and companies that wish to undertake collaborative projects.  Within five of the seven models of agreement, it is recommended that the institution owns the results or has a right to use the results for academic and research purposes. The rationale behind this is that, should these rights be conceded, there should be some greater return to the University than if the rights were retained.

Another point of contention within the agreement is under the subject of exclusive rights. The agreement states that ““GMI shall own all intellectual property in, and shall have the exclusive right to commercialise, the GMI databases, the GMI genomic database results and the GMI discovery database results”.

It has also been stated that Trinity College Dublin are “in the early stages of putting together an agreement.

Adam Doyle – Reporter