National Network of Scientists to Transform Biomedical Research

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National Network of Scientists to Transform Biomedical Research

NIH Funds VIVO Project to Discover Expertise and Enable Collaborations

ITHACA, N.Y. (Oct. 20, 2009) – Cornell University Library is pleased to announce a $12.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish and support the national networking of biomedical researchers. The two-year grant is led by the University of Florida, with Cornell University and Indiana University as major partners.

VIVO, the technology supporting the network, builds a fundamental new capability to connect researchers and scholars and facilitate collaboration. Through this comprehensive network, scientists will be able to identify existing and ongoing work, explore interdisciplinary opportunities and initiate new partnerships.

“This project represents the next stage in the ongoing development of VIVO,” said Cornell Deputy Provost David Harris. “Developed by Cornell staff, VIVO makes it easy for faculty, students, staff and external constituencies to identify Cornell researchers working on a wide range of topics. We are excited that this tool will now be used to connect researchers across institutions.”

The three main participating institutions will share the work: Cornell will spearhead the development of the multi-institutional functionality of the VIVO technology; the University of Florida will focus on developing technology for keeping each site’s data current; and Indiana University Bloomington will develop social networking tools to enable researchers to find others with similar interests. Four other institutions — Scripps Research Institute, Ponce Medical School, Washington University and Weill Cornell Medical College — are also active in the initiative and will serve as implementation sites.

Librarians and information technology strategists at each institution will work together to provide a fully integrated resource for assisting researchers and building the national network. Together, the seven partner institutions will develop, test and implement VIVOweb, a multi-institutional extension to Cornell’s VIVO, over the next two years.

“Five years of time, energy and imagination created VIVO, and now that work is paying off in ways we had only imagined before,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell. “This major partnership enables us to extend the capabilities of all of our institutions and reach further than we would be able to alone. Creating strong connections between institutions is a fundamental building block in advancing the mission of 21st-century research libraries.”

VIVO was initially developed at Cornell in 2003 by Jon Corson-Rikert, head of Information Technology Services at Mann Library, as a way to connect people and resources in the life sciences across Cornell’s departments, colleges and campuses. As researchers and administrators embraced the newly created network, a team of programmers, designers and librarians expanded the project to all other disciplines at Cornell, and other universities began to explore the open-source, free software. VIVO has been adopted for local networks at other universities and institutions in the United States, Australia and China. The new grant, awarded through NIH’s National Center for Research Resources, allows the project to follow VIVO’s original model and build a multi-institutional platform for the biomedical community.

The Cornell effort to develop VIVOweb will be led by Dean Krafft, the Library’s chief technology strategist; Corson-Rikert; and Medha Devare, bioinformatics and life sciences librarian. VIVOweb’s open Semantic Web/Linked Data approach will empower researchers to extend their research communities — not just via prior knowledge or serendipity, but through recommendation or suggestion networks based on commonalities described in the VIVOweb researcher profiles.

“Before VIVO, the Library heard a lot of frustration from faculty members who couldn’t find collaborators from different disciplines across campus. The idea of VIVO was to transcend administrative divisions and create a single point of access for scholarly interaction,” Devare said. “Now that VIVO is expanding across institutions, the biomedical community will be able to benefit from that bird’s-eye perspective of their research.”

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NIH Funds VIVO Project to Discover Expertise and Enable Collaborations