Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Funds for Networking

NIH awarded $27 million to Harvard University Medical School and the University of Florida to help resource networking in the scientific fields. The awards will develop internet-based tools to be used for social networking to help scientists in the field of biomedical research. These modern technologies have the potential to enhance interdisciplinary research and enable individuals to connect with each other and with other resources in new ways.

The awards were made possible through the Recovery Act with the funding to be administered by the National Center for Research Resources within NIH. The Harvard award will create a home where experts can share resources, while the Florida award will create a social network to enable connections among the scientific community to create pathways to lead to others they know in their field. The awards will create 45-60 new jobs in information technology, research, and in other fields to develop, implement, and evaluate the projects within a required two year timeline.

Harvard will work with eight other institutions to include Dartmouth College, Jackson State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Montana State University, Oregon Health and Science University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Hawaii Manoa, and the University of Puerto Rico.

The nine institutions will form a team to be called “Networking Research Resources Across America” to work together to build and implement a “Federated National Informatics Network” to enable investigators to discover research resources that are presently invisible.

By the end of the two year funding period, the nine sites will be able to find invisible research resources, update their own research inventory, provide for a local inventory management system, develop a simple user-friendly comprehensive data query system, provide reports, and develop methods so that new sites can be added to the network.

The University of Florida will work with other participating institutions to include Cornell University, Indiana University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Washington University in St. Louis, Scripps Research Institute, and Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico. The funding will help these institutions establish a national network of scientists by using a new software system called “VIVO”. Scientists using VIVO will be able to find other scientists doing similar or complementary work.

The project will provide a first release of the software to be used at the participating institutions and will focus on institutional resources. A second release will incorporate all national networking features to demonstrate the viability and utility of national deployment, and a third release will incorporate features to establish sustainability through a sustainable open product development process.