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Nobel Prize Winner Slams ACS, Resigns from Society

:: Richard J Roberts, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, has written a (publicly available) devestating letter regarding the American Chemical Society's continued attempts to shut down the freely available db PubChem, produced by NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information. Further details are available at the U Cal Office of Scholarly Communications site, on the page, The American Chemical Society and NIH's PubChem.

The content of Dr Roberts' letter follows:

Dear Dr. Namaroff:

I regret that I am going to have to pull out of the ACS-CSIR conference in India next January. For some time now I have been deeply troubled by the actions of the ACS and this has finally reached breaking point with the violent opposition to the PubChem initiative at NCBI. I find myself no longer able to support anything that carries the imprimatur of the ACS.

I was greatly troubled when ACS so vehemently opposed the Open Access initiative. This led me to resign my membership in the society after more than 20 years as a member. The recent legal actions against Google have also disturbed me very much, but the current opposition to PubChem is reprehensible and without any redeeming merit. As an advisor to PubChem I am aware of what they are trying to do and it is in no way a threat to anything that ACS is doing. Rather it complements those activities very nicely and provides for the biological community an important resource that is not provided by CAS. Furthermore, PubChem is keen to provide links to CAS and thereby enhance the usefulness of both resources.

My only interpretation of the recent actions by the ACS Board and management is that it is no longer trying to be a scientific society striving towards the goals of its Congressional charter, which is to represent the best interests of the scientists who form its membership. Rather it seems to be a commercial enterprise whose principle objective is to accumulate money. The ACS management team might be well-advised to poll its members to discover if they are happy about the recent actions taken in their names.

Aside from the listed recipients of this letter, I am prepared to make to make it publicly available if requested. Frankly, the recent actions of the ACS are a disgrace to its image in the USA and around the world. They engender such bad feelings as to raise in question the motivations of its leadership. I cannot in good faith support any of the activities of a body that has gone so seriously wrong.

Richard J. Roberts
1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine

Dr. Richard J. Roberts
New England Biolabs
32 Tozer Road
Beverly, MA 01984

Via: George Porter.

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