THE BERMUDA PRINCIPLES STORY
Between 1990 and 2003 numerous labs undertook a mission to sequence the complete human genome. With this extensive collaboration came uncertainty about the fate of the gene sequences once deduced. Would each lab obtain a patent on their sequenced gene and sell this for profit? Or would they all be made publicly available to advance scientific research?
In February 1996, Bermuda became a part of scientific history. At the "International Strategy Meeting on Human Genome Sequencing", 51 scientists from all over the world met on the island as a neutral meeting location. Their goal? To negotiate what the data sharing policy was during the completion of The Human Genome Project.
To the benefit of global society, these scientists held strong to the conviction that medical advancement should overrule financial gain. An agreement, entitled The Bermuda Principles, cemented the legacy of these values and all gene sequences were issued freely to the worldwide community. Two follow up meetings in 1997 and 1998, also in Bermuda, were held to uphold the Bermuda Principles.
The impact of The Bermuda Principles on the pace and depth of scientific research has been under-appreciated. This pact has been pivotal to medical advancement and set a solid ethical precedent for future research. With the establishment of the Annual Bermuda Principles Impact Conferences, these principles continue to live on.
Delegates to the First International Strategy Meeting on Human Genome Sequencing in Bermuda, February 1996. Courtesy of Rick Myers. Held in the Duke University Centre for Public Genome Research Files Repository
ABOUT BERMUDA PRINCIPLES FOUNDATION
The Bermuda Principles Foundation Fund is a non-profit initiative. It was established in May 2016 to facilitate programs that benefit the Bermuda community, especially its youth. The Foundation's goal is to increase scientific outreach in Bermuda, to expand science-based opportunities in Bermuda and to foster academic excellence. We aim to inspire the next generation of Bermudians scientists to fulfil their potential and embrace careers in healthcare and science.
Our efforts are led by Dr. Carika Weldon, a Bermudian biochemist, who both established and facilitated the creation of the programs that benefit Bermuda's community. Our initiatives include the annual 'Science With Scientists' school tour which brings genetic hands-on workshops to children age 11-18. Bermuda's top science students also have the opportunity to learn about research directly from renowned and leading scientists, and interact with during our annual international Bermuda Principles Impact Conference which plays host to the Bermuda's Youth Parliament Science Ethics Debate, a multi-collaborative Health Education Fair.