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New Sanger Series explores emerging and ethical issues in scholarship in the digital age

January 6, 2014

The VCU Office of Research and VCU Libraries will launch The Sanger Series in 2014. This new speaker series is designed to address ethical issues and trends that affect research, scholarship and creative expression. A focus of the intellectual series will be on ethics and intellectual property in the digital age.

John Wilbanks, a well-known national voice on many topics related to medical and health informatics and human subjects in the digital age, will present the inaugural lecture on Feb. 18 at the Kontos Building Auditorium, 4:30 to 6 p.m. with a reception following. His topic will be "The emerging politics of personal research data."

Wilbanks is chief commons officer for Sage Bionetworks and senior adviser for the National Coordination Office for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development. A pioneer and ardent campaigner for data sharing by scientists and wider adoption of open access publishing, Wilbanks has been featured by Scientific American, named a game-changer and revolutionary mind by Seed magazine, and a visionary by the Utne Reader. He has lectured around the world, including presenting a TEDTalk.

Lecturers invited to present at future Sanger Series events include:

  • Bruce Alberts--president emeritus of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, former chair of the National Research Council and former editor-in-chief of Science--will speak Oct. 21, 2014, at noon on campus.
  • A panel on open access and copyright--featuring two nationally established leaders on open access and ethical challenges in copyright and author's rights--will be scheduled for spring semester 2014.

"The Sanger Series will initiate a new and much anticipated conversation across the university about ethics, publishing and scholarly expression at VCU," said University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider. "We are excited to bring such nationally prominent speakers to VCU. They will help us engage with the critical issues affecting scholarly discourse as the university accelerates its transformation into a premiere urban research university."

More about the inaugural speaker

Wilbanks works at Sage Bionetworks, which builds tools and policies that help networks of people who have their health data share it with networks of people who like to analyze health data. Previously, he worked at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the World Wide Web Consortium, the US House of Representatives, Creative Commons (hosted at MIT’s Project on Mathematics and Computation), and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He co-founded a bioinformatics company Incellico, which is now part of Selventa.

He was a co-founder of the Access To Research campaign, which resulted in federal policy requiring public access to scientific research across the entire US government.

He studied philosophy at Tulane University.

Funding for the lecture series will be from The Sanger Fund.

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