The Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) was brought to life on 2006-08-24 by a group of leading medical researchers from around the world, after announcing the formation of this international coalition for greater transparency, to improve the sharing of influenza data. This initiative was announced in a [ letter published in the journal Nature] . Over 70 leading scientists have signed this letter including seven Nobel laureates.

GISAID is providing a platform including the operation of a publicly accessible EpiFlu database that is free of charge. Its users are requested to register and agree that they share their own data, credit the use of others' data, analyze findings jointly and publish results collaboratively, and maintain common access to technology derived from the data so that it can be used not only for research but for development of products such as diagnostics and vaccines. The data will be available immediately to all who sign on to use the database under the terms that they will acknowledge the source of the data and endeavor to work with those that provide the data.

GISAID is an international coalition of scientists who actively promote greater transparency to improve the sharing of influenza data. Greater transparency and more timely sharing of sequence data has been a goal of many researchers and stakeholders alike. The GISAID platform spans national borders and scientific disciplines, with leaders in the fields of veterinary medicine, human medicine, bioinformatics, epidemiology and intellectual property. This cross-disciplinary effort provides new means to communicate and share information, as each discipline has distinct interests but also shares similar goals. The Initiative came together to work around restrictions, which have previously prevented specifically the sharing of information on avian influenza (a.k.a. bird flu), with the hope that more shared information will help researchers understand how viruses spread, evolve, and potentially become pandemic, anticipating that its EpiFlu database will be a substantial improvement over previously available databases, by promoting influenza data to becoming available more quickly and to a wider audience than has been possible in the past.

The GISAID Foundation is a non-stock, nonprofit corporation incorporated in the District of Columbia. GISAID is organized and operated exclusively for charitable, scientific and educational purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code.

GISAID works with governments around the globe to encourage their respective countries’ participation in the responsible sharing of influenza data in line with both WHO and FAO guidelines and the International Health Regulations. GISAID expects to solicit funding from the private sector as well as government agencies around the world. Financial plans include developing fundraising vehicles in other territories and establishing an endowment to provide a consistent and reliable future funding source.


The Initiative has earned widespread international support around the goal of better understanding the spread and evolution of the influenza virus, its transmissibility and pathogenicity. With this goal in mind, the Initiative determined that scientists from different fields of expertise needed full access to comprehensive genetic sequencing, clinical and epidemiological data, as well as analysis from both human and animal isolates in order to better understand the virus and its potential mutation to a pandemic pathogen. The Initiative aims to provide developing countries with better access to scientific research and the development of potential pandemic flu vaccines to lessen its dependence on foreign aid. It is already hailed as a model for future initiatives.

GISAID will automatically deposit genomic sequences it collected, in publicly funded databases such as the [ INSDC] , [ IVDB] and [ LANL] as soon as possible after analysis and validation, with a maximum delay of six months.


The Foundation was initially funded by Peter Bogner - a strategic advisor and international broadcasting executive - who serves as its founder and principal facilitator. Bogner has been directing the build-up of this platform by bringing together the world's leading scientists and stakeholders who are actively committed to accelerating understanding of this potential human pandemic by rapidly sharing scientific data and results.

On 2006-01-28 Bogner met with US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff at the [ World Economic Forum] in Davos, Switzerland, and was told about the US Government's preparedness concept on dealing with the potential of a flu pandemic. Concerns about a pandemic scenario heightened. A subsequent public outcry by Italian veterinary researcher [ Ilaria Capua] of the [ Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie] outside of Venice, Italy, complaining about the World Health Organization's sharing practices, eventually led to a dialogue with Bogner and convinced researchers around the world to unite for the creation of GISAID.

Since the inception of the Initiative, Bogner announced his plans to transition out of a day-to-day role as the Chief Executive of [ The Bogner Organization] , to allow him to devote more time to working with the GISAID Foundation as its director.

On 2006-11-20, the Initiative received the endorsement of both [ The Royal Society] and [ The Academy of Medical Sciences] .

On 2006-12-19, GISAID signed a cooperation agreement with the [ Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics] , which leads a Swiss consortium to manage the GISAID Database on influenza virus strains. Under this agreement, the Geneva based institute is to provide services for the secure storage and analysis of genetic, epidemiological and clinical data.

On 2007-03-28, Indonesia’s Minister of Health, [ Siti Fadilah Supari] announced the launch of the GISAID Database following a high-level [ WHO meeting] in Jakarta on [ Responsible Practices for Sharing Avian Influenza Viruses.]

On 2007-04-16, The [ Indonesian Academy of Sciences] reaffirmed its endorsement of GISAID stating it shares the same ideals regarding free exchange and responsible sharing of information of avian influenza and emerging infectious diseases.

On 2007-04-17, The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina [ endorses] the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data for “it promotes one of the key values in scientific research: collaboration and integration between scientists in order to achieve improved outcomes for the benefit of human and animal health.”


The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees. The Members of the Board and the Chairman are elected. GISAID’s Board of Trustees is also charged with the oversight of potential conflicts of interest, in particular as it concerns the foundations funding sources.

GISAID's Scientific Advisory Board is composed of scientists who are leaders in their respective fields of study and who are as representative as possible of the geographic, ethnic and cultural diversity of the global scientific community. The Scientific Advisory Board is to provide guidance, leadership and advise on appropriate policies governing publication, public communication, access to, and dissemination of, data concerning influenza viruses, including those with pandemic or epidemic potential and to recommend appropriate policies for coordinated international oversight. Its members are elected by the members of a Scientific Executive Committee, which is overseen by the Scientific Advisory Board.

External links

* [ GISAID] - official homepage
* [ Reuters Foundation AlertNet on Bird Flu]
* [ International Convention on Biological Diversity] section on sharing safety information, and access, especially for developing countries, to the benefits of biotechnology derived from biological isolates from those countries, such as vaccines and diagnostic tools
* [ Nature] 's [ mashup integrating data on avian-flu outbreaks through early 2006 from the WHO and FAO into Google Earth]
* [ WHO Executive Board Documents on best practice for sharing influenza viruses and sequence data, January 2007]

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