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DIRECT Pilot Promises To Boost Researcher Collaboration

Exactly 2,448 researchers at Harvard University have some tie to stem cell research, including 551 full professors. Twenty-three people at the University of Florida and 10 at U Iowa do something in the area of informatics. Twelve people at the Oregon Health & Science University and 52 at Johns Hopkins research geriatrics. The names of these experts, their research histories, and contact details show up in DIRECT, the Distributed Interoperable Research Experts Collaboration Tool. This public website, launched as a pilot in January 2011, compiles researcher profiles into a growing national research community.

Recently, Elsevier, a publisher of scientific, technical, and medical information products and services, said that 14 institutional customers are participating in the pilot. All use the vendor's own directory of research expertise, SciVal Experts. The material maintained by these customers in SciVal Experts shows up in DIRECT as search results.

The new online network allows users to find potential research collaborators. The pilot is a project facilitated by the Research Networking Group of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), a consortium led by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Research Resources.

"Enabling interoperability among different profile systems creates a collective network of researchers better poised to connect with each other and pool their expertise," said Griffin Weber, chief technology officer at Harvard Medical School and co-chair of the CTSA Research Networking Group. "By linking various institutions through DIRECT via their own individual platforms, we are able to create a much larger network that enables researchers to easily identify potential collaboration partners throughout the United States."

More information is available at direct2experts.org.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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