Scientific collaboration is a lot like finding a mate: people look for a partner within their spheres of contact, and occasionally a relationship blossoms from a spontaneous conversation between two strangers. But just as dating has gone high-tech with online services, Yale scientists now have their own online resource for connecting colleagues with common interests—the Research Accelerator website (ycci.researchaccelerator.org).
The Research Accelerator goes beyond connecting researchers according to which medical or graduate school they attended. Instead it promotes collaboration based on common research interests.
The new platform is the brainchild of two longtime pals: Geoffrey L. Chupp, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine; and Steven J. Greenberg, J.D., a New York attorney who founded the job search websiteJobs4.0. Over the men’s 25-year friendship—they met through their wives, who were classmates at Tufts—the two have often discussed science, including the challenges of research. Technological advances now allow scientists to slice and dice information to generate new data, Chupp said; however, channels for drawing on the insights of other researchers to better understand the data are not readily available.
A few years ago, Chupp suggested to Greenberg that they create a modified version of the Jobs4.0website for scientists. Nearly three years later, the Research Accelerator is the product of Chupp and Greenberg’s time and commitment.
Researchers with a valid Yale e-mail account can log onto the Yale Research Accelerator site free of charge. Once registered, they can post information about genes, pathways, or diseases to seek out others with similar interests. Researchers can search or browse listings or create alerts describing what they’re looking for. Filters allow scientists to control how and with whom they share their information and resources.
The Research Accelerator site was launched at Yale in mid-March under the auspices of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI). Within five weeks, well over 300 scientists at Yale were posting data. “My hope is that the Research Accelerator site will catch on and not only be useful to people here but will also begin communications across institutions. Science shouldn’t have a boundary,” said Robert S. Sherwin, M.D., FW ’74, director of YCCI, C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine, and section chief of endocrinology.
Indeed, talks are under way with other institutions keen to join the Research Accelerator platform. A completely public version of the site (researchaccelerator.org) also exists for all researchers regardless of institutional affiliation.
“Our goal is to one day wake up—soon, we hope—and have someone who’s studying botany at University College London or the Cleveland Clinic send some useful data to a cancer researcher at Yale and have that collaboration radically advance the pace of research,” said Greenberg.