Physicist Michael Nielson argues for a new age of “networked science,” in which scientists share information rather than guard data and covet publication. A nonprofit research organization in Seattle, Sage Bionetworks, aims to apply this approach to studying disease. It has already forged data-sharing partnerships with universities, pharmaceutical companies and patient groups to study Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

Researchers must abandon usual notions of credit and ownership—a particularly tough sell for academic institutions. But Sage is betting that the advantages of working together will overcome the barriers. Here’s how it works.