Want to know how to ski better?
Talk to Peter Bogner. He demonstrates how in this video: Skiing Techniques (1985)
Want someone to organise a Yacht race?
Talk to Peter Bogner. He organised the Speed world challenge sailing 2003.
From a prestigious skiing dynasty and no less passionate about sailing, Peter Bogner the Chief Executive of the Bogner Organization brings his media experience and his management skills to the speed challenge. He says his strategies for sailing and running a business intersect at the point of using speed and state-of-the-art technologies to reinforce leadership.
Want access to H5N1 sequences? To pandemic H1N1 sequences?
Talk to Peter Bogner.
That was my first reaction when I realised that a ski instructor/yacht racing organiser/media impresario would have control over the most significant nucleotide sequences in the world.
How did this happen? No-one seems to know.
When it was first announced, it was spun as some sort of good thing. Sequence data that had been kept secret in WHO vaults would be made publicly accessible. (See A nonscientist pushes sharing bird-flu data for more).
The thing is, if people really want to make sequences public, there is a simple way to do this: deposit them in GenBank. In every field of biology, with the glaring exception of influenza science, sequences are uploaded to GenBank and then made freely available to anyone who wants them with no pre-conditions whatsoever. This database is paid for by the US taxpayer via funding from the National Institutes of Health, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Want all the new H1N1 sequences deposited in GenBank? Here they are:
GenBank sequences from pandemic (H1N1) 2009 viruses
So, since there is already a publicly funded, completely accessible database for nucleotide sequences, why do we need a privately funded one for flu sequences? Hint: Because the data are not freely available. Instead, there are a number of preconditions attached to access. The contract you must agree to is more complex than the one I signed to buy my house. Some highlights: First, you must register by providing your name, address and other personal information. If Peter, the Ski Instructor, thinks you are OK, you will use a password and username to access the database. Every access of data will be monitored by Peter, the Ski Instructor. If you attempt to disclose the information to anyone else without gaining the permission of the person who submitted the sequence data, you lose access to the data. If Peter, the Ski Instructor, decides to cut you off at any time, then, no sequences for you!
These conditions greatly limit the utility of the data. If you want to analyse a large dataset, you need to get permission from all the many contributors. If you want to publish an idea that contradicts the hypothesis of one of the contributors, they may make it difficult for you. If you want to discuss your ideas with a colleague down the hall, you can’t. If you want to discuss an important result at a meeting, you may not be able to if you cannot get permission from all the sequence contributors in time.
This may surprise you, but it turns out that being a ski instructor is not the best preparation for building a nucleotide sequence database. So Peter, the Ski Instructor, contracted out the actual sciency part of the project to the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB). SIB and Peter the Ski Instructor recently had a dispute about ownership of the database. So, access to these critical sequences was interrupted….
IN THE MIDDLE OF A FRAKKING PANDEMIC!!!!!
Sorry, I get that way when buttheads endanger all of humanity due to extreme greed and stupidity.
To all the researchers who deposit your flu sequences in GISAID instead of GenBank, please, go buy a soul and have it inserted into your meat sack. Historians are going to record what you did. And if a lot of people die in this pandemic, a pretty good bet at this point, your wax image is going to be in the Bad Boys section of Madame Tussauds.