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Governing Medical Knowledge Commons

Governing Medical Knowledge Commons - cover

Governing Medical Knowledge Commons (Katherine J. Strandburg, Brett M. Frischmann, and Michael J. Madison eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Governing Medical Knowledge Commons makes three claims: first, evidence matters to innovation policymaking; second, evidence shows that self-governing knowledge commons support effective innovation without prioritizing traditional intellectual property rights; and third, knowledge commons can succeed in the critical fields of medicine and health. The editors’ knowledge commons framework adapts Elinor Ostrom’s groundbreaking research on natural resource commons to the distinctive attributes of knowledge and information, providing a systematic means for accumulating evidence about how knowledge commons succeed. The editors’ previous volume, Governing Knowledge Commons, demonstrated the framework’s power through case studies in a diverse range of areas. Governing Medical Knowledge Commons provides fifteen new case studies of knowledge commons in which researchers, medical professionals, and patients generate, improve, and share innovations, offering readers a practical introduction to the knowledge commons framework and a synthesis of conclusions and lessons.


‘Governing Medical Knowledge Commons is a very interesting and useful book, and I am delighted to say so! Innovation development is increasingly becoming open and distributed over time. Whether and how the fruits of this openly revealed activity can be collected and efficiently utilized as a commons is a very important next question. Strandburg, Frischmann, and Madison greatly help further progress via this collection of very thoughtful studies on pioneering medical commons models and trials.’

Eric von Hippel, T. Wilson Professor in Management, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

‘This volume builds on Elinor Ostrom’s research on the commons. Understanding the institutions that promote cooperation is critical to good governance and improving social welfare. The authors in this volume provide case studies of governance in the medical commons. The insights are pathbreaking and will lead to better policies for medical research. Moreover, the insights here will be synergistic to research in other areas of governance of commons.’

Lee J. Alston, Director of the Ostrom Workshop, Indiana University, Bloomington

‘This book makes significant advances on a decades-long research agenda through which Elinor Ostrom and other commons researchers uncovered the reasons behind the often surprising success of community-based management of natural resources. Contributors to this volume demonstrate that their concept of ‘commons as a mode of governance’ goes well beyond standard protections for intellectual property rights to integrate collaborative practice into the very heart of innovation in medical research and treatment. Case studies detail several impressive and diverse examples of this powerful synthesis of research and practice, and the editors conclude with practical lessons for how we might achieve comparable levels of improvement in other areas.’

Michael D. McGinnis, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and former Director, Ostrom Workshop, Indiana University, Bloomington

Read the Book via Cambridge Core (Open Access)

Knowledge Commons and the Road to Medical Commons by Katherine J. Strandburg, Brett M. Frischmann, and Michael J. Madison

The Knowledge Commons Framework by Katherine J. Strandburg, Brett M. Frischmann, and Michael J. Madison

Leviathan in the Commons: Biomedical Data and the State by Jorge L. Contreras

Centralization, Fragmentation, and Replication in the Genomic Data Commons by Peter Lee

Genomic Data Commons by Barbara J. Evans

Population Biobanks’ Governance: A Case Study of Knowledge Commons by Andrea Boggio

The Sentinel Initiative as a Knowledge Commons by Ryan Abbott

Cancer: From a Kingdom to a Commons by Michael Mattioli

The Greatest Generational Impact: Open Neuroscience as an Emerging Knowledge Commons by Maja Larson and Margaret Chon

Better to Give Than to Receive: An Uncommon Commons in Synthetic Biology by Andrew W. Torrance

Governance of Biomedical Research Commons to Advance Clinical Translation: Lessons from the Mouse Model Community by Tania Bubela, Rhiannon Adams, Shubha Chandrasekharan, Amrita Mishra, and Songyan Liu

Constructing Interdisciplinary Collaboration: The Oncofertility Consortium as an Emerging Knowledge Commons by Laura G. Pedraza-Fariña

The Application of User Innovation and Knowledge Commons Governance to Mental Health Intervention by Glenn Saxe and Mary Acri

Challenges and Opportunities in Developing and Sharing Solutions by Patients and Caregivers: The Story of a Knowledge Commons for the Patient Innovation Project by Pedro Oliveira, Leid Zejnilović, and Helena Canhão

Chronic Disease, New Thinking, and Outlaw Innovation: Patients on the Edge in the Knowledge Commons by Stephen Flowers

The North American Mitochondrial Disease Consortium: A Developing Knowledge Commons by Katherine J. Strandburg and Brett M. Frischmann

The Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers (CEGIR): An Emerging Knowledge Commons by Katherine J. Strandburg and Stefan Bechtold

Governing Knowledge Commons: An Appraisal by Katherine J. Strandburg, Brett M. Frischmann, and Michael J. Madison

About the Editors and Contributors


Katherine J. Strandburg is the Alfred B. Engelberg Professor of Law at New York University

Brett. M. Frischmann is the Charles Widger Endowed University Professor in Law, Business and Economics at Villanova University

Michael J. Madison is Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh


Ryan Abbott is Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey

Mary Acri is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University

Rhiannon Adams

Stefan Bechtold is Professor of Intellectual Property at ETH Zurich

Andrea Boggio is Professor for Legal Studies at Bryant University

Tania Bubela is Dean and Professor of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University

Helena Canhão

Shubha Chandrasekharan is a Health Sciences Administrator at the National Institutes of Health

Margaret Chon is the Donald & Lynda Horowitz Professor for the Pursuit of Justice at Seattle University

Jorge L. Contreras is Professor of Law at the University of Utah

Barbara J. Evans is Professor of Law and Stephen C. O’Connell Chair at the University of Florida

Stephen Flowers is Professor of Management at the University of Kent

Maja Larson is General Counsel of the Allen Institute

Peter Lee is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law at the University of California Davis

Michael Mattioli is Professor of Law at Indiana University

Songyan Liu

Amrita Mishra is a community development specialist

Pedro Oliveira is Professor MSO at Copenhagen Business School

Laura G. Pedraza-Fariña is Professor of Law at Northwestern University

Glenn Saxe is Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Grossman School of Medicine 

Andrew W. Torrance is the Paul E. Wilson Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas

Leid Zejnilović is Assistant Professor at Nova School of Business and Economics at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa