Harvard University releases Profiles Research Networking Software as open source

March 15, 2010

Harvard University has released Profiles Research Networking Software, a form of social networking and expertise mining technology, to the open source community. Developed with the support of Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center, the software is now broadly available to institutions seeking a web-based means of facilitating collaboration among their academic researchers.

Profiles Research Networking Software utilizes advanced algorithms that go beyond the display of directory information to encompass all of the professional connections individuals have accrued through their research communities. Social networks are formed automatically when individuals share common traits such as similar research interests, co-authorship on a publication, appointments in the same department, or offices or laboratories in the same building. The technology aggregates researcher data from numerous source systems including those operated by HR departments, publication data from PubMed, as well as both public and private directories. Individuals have the ability to modify their own profile and expand their social network by adding publications and new contacts that haven't been automatically discovered.

The software was developed under the supervision of Griffin Weber, MD, PhD, Chief Technology Officer of Harvard Medical School and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, with the support of Harvard Catalyst. Harvard Catalyst is funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Center for Research Resources and financial contributions from Harvard University and its affiliated academic healthcare centers.

"The technology has a tremendous amount of potential to assist researchers at other institutions, hence our release of the software to the community," said Weber.

The software was first deployed to connect the faculty of Harvard Medical School, followed by those at the Harvard School of Public Health. It has also been implemented at the University of California, San Francisco, with additional projects planned across a range of both CTSA and non-CTSA sites including the University of Minnesota and Health Sciences South Carolina (including the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, and Clemson University).

Harvard Catalyst remains focused on continued development of Profiles Research Networking Software, and, with Harvard University, has selected Recombinant Data Corp., a healthcare data warehousing and clinical intelligence solutions provider, as an authorized service provider for the software. Recombinant has taken on responsibility for day-to-day software activities including setup, configuration, customization, documentation, and integration services to third parties seeking to implement the technology at their own institution. Recombinant will be principally responsible for coordinating open source contributions, but the overall project is being managed via a governance committee chaired by Dr. Weber that others can join.

Explore further: Indiana U researchers launch social networking and research management tool for scientists

More information: For more information on Harvard Catalyst, visit catalyst.harvard.edu .

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