GISAID – Advancing Global Health Through Open Data Sharing

GISAID – Advancing Global Health Through Open Data Sharing 680 240 Open and Universal Science (OPUS) Project

In the realm of infectious diseases, particularly influenza, the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) stands as a shining example of the positive impact of open science.


In 2008, amidst concerns about the rapid spread of avian influenza (H5N1) and the potential for a global pandemic, a group of scientists recognized the need for real-time, global sharing of influenza data. Traditional practices involved delayed publication in scientific journals, hindering swift responses to emerging threats.

Concrete Achievements:

  1. Real-Time Data Sharing: GISAID established an online platform that allows researchers and laboratories worldwide to share and access influenza-related data in real time. This includes genetic sequences of the virus, clinical data, and epidemiological information. By breaking down traditional barriers to data sharing, GISAID significantly accelerates the global response to influenza outbreaks.
  2. Pandemic Preparedness: During the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 and later during the COVID-19 pandemic, GISAID played a pivotal role in providing crucial information to scientists, public health officials, and policymakers. Rapid access to genetic sequences enabled researchers to study the virus, develop diagnostic tools, and design vaccines with unprecedented speed.
  3. Global Collaboration: GISAID promotes collaborative efforts among scientists and institutions globally. Researchers from diverse backgrounds and regions can contribute to a collective understanding of influenza viruses. This collaborative model ensures that insights gained in one part of the world can benefit others, fostering a united front against infectious diseases.
  4. Open Access to Data: GISAID operates on the principle of open access, allowing any researcher to freely access and use the shared data. This not only promotes transparency but also empowers scientists in resource-limited settings to contribute to and benefit from global research efforts.

Open Science’s Ongoing Impact and Future Potential

The success of GISAID illustrates how open science, in this case, open data sharing, can have tangible and life-saving impacts on global health. By fostering collaboration, providing real-time information, and promoting open access, GISAID exemplifies the concrete achievements of open science for the benefit of society, particularly in the realm of public health and infectious disease control.

Photo via Wikidata

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