A coalition of seven academic institutions will use a $12.2 million National Institutes of Health grant to develop VIVOweb, a Facebook-style professional networking system for biomedical researchers across the United States. Participating institutions say VIVOweb will make it easier for scientists to find one another, ultimately enabling them to improve their ongoing studies and create long-term collaborative projects that could result in new discoveries. University of Florida professor Michael Conlon, the principal investigator on the project, says scientists often have difficulty finding each other, and currently the best way to connect with others performing similar research is through lists of publications. Dean Krafft, who is leading the project at Cornell University, says VIVOweb will use the Semantic Web to make information more available to scientists. The public also will be able to access the site, but some information will be available only to scientists. The open source software developed by Cornell for VIVOweb collects the facts a person is looking for and assembles a unique Web page just for that search. Participants expect to have VIVOweb connected across the country within two years, and eventually plan to connect scientists from around the world.
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