Commercialization without consent: Sanger Institute accused of violating agreements with African scientists

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Stellenbosch University said that it had supplied DNA samples to the Sanger Institute for research purposes. Image: Alamy

The Wellcome Sanger Institute in the UK had planned to commercialize a genetics array based on African DNA samples, whistleblowers allege, which would have violated the terms of agreements for using the materials, The Times reports. Two universities in Africa have condemned any commercial endeavors using the samples, some of which came from indigenous tribes.

“This conduct of the Wellcome Sanger Institute raises serious legal and ethical consequences,” Stellenbosch University in South Africa wrote to Sanger Director Mike Stratton in March, according to The Times.

On Twitter, geneticist Deepti Gurdasani writes that she is one of the whistleblowers and claims that she lost her job after she filed her complaint. “It’s great to see the silence around this being broken. Myself, and another whistleblower were dismissed after we raised concerns about this to senior management at @sangerinstitute and @JeremyFarrar at @wellcometrust. Eight more people were made redundant.”

Related article:  Patricia Nanteza is Uganda’s agricultural biotechnology communications queen

Sanger has been dealing with accusations of poor management, harassment, and the expected loss of a number of top faculty members. While Stratton has admitted that there was mismanagement at the institute, an independent investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Read full, original post: Sanger Institute Accused of Misusing African DNA Samples

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