This project aims to gain an empirical understanding of the formal and informal norms governing pathogen- and benefit-sharing in order to advance the policy debate on how to manage outbreaks. As such, this research project asks: How can pathogen- and benefit-sharing practices be measured, described and meaningfully assessed? How do formal and informal norms of collaboration and sharing in scientific practice facilitate or impede rapid pathogen- or benefit-sharing? What drives decisions to share (or not) pathogens and related benefits? What global governance tools and instruments can improve pathogen- and benefit-sharing practices to ensure health security for all?
We use both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to answer these questions. Key expert interviews and document review of memoranda of understanding, material transfer agreements, organizational policies, and other contracts inform us on existing formal and informal norms in pathogen- and benefit-sharing. We will also use publicly available quantitative data and shipping records on influenza to develop metrics on pathogen- and benefit-sharing practices and explore these issues in-depth through two case studies, one on Ebola in Liberia and another on Zika in Brazil. Based on the data collected, the project will develop proposals for global governance tools and instruments to strengthen pathogen and benefit-sharing, to be discussed with a wide-range of stakeholders.
Key collaborators include the World Health Organization, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia the National School of Public Health at Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Brazil, the Faculty of Law and the Global Studies Institute at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, USA.