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Student , faculty research made easier with Profiles database

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 01:02

The Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and Tufts University officially launched Profiles, a collaborative online database for scientists and researchers, to members of the Tufts community last Thursday.

Tufts CTSI Profiles is targeted primarily to students and researchers interested in clinical and translational research and their collective collaboration, Manager of Communications and Media at Tufts CTSI Amy West said.

Profiles contains a library of electronic curriculum vitae, information about research at Tufts, publications and contact information, according to West.

“The reason why [Profiles is] such an exceptional tool is because it provides a great platform for researchers to find collaborators in their particular areas of interest,” Executive Director of Tufts CTSI Randi Triant said.

Profiles allows students to locate experts in particular fields and find the latest publications by experts who have conducted research in those areas, according to Triant.

“There are many researchers working on the same problems, but because of the nature of the work, they’re publishing in different areas and going to different conferences,” University Records Manager Eliot Wilczek said. “One of the purposes of Profiles is to bring those relationships to the surface that might not be so obvious.”

The information for profiles created by the database comes from Tufts’ Office of Faculty Affairs records and the PubMed database, West said. The information is updated automatically at least once a week from changes made at the Hirsch Health Sciences Library, according to the Tufts CTSI website.

West said that Profiles displays several passive networks, such as research concepts, co−authors, people conducting similar research and people who work in the same department or building.

“Then there are active networks, where a person who has a profile can log in and can select a person in the database through keyword or department searches,” she said. “If you were looking to do a project on kidney disease, you could find out who’s doing similar research and connect with them.”

“Profiles will also serve as a tool to help students, researchers and the public find out about research currently going on at Tufts,” Triant said.

“Being able to make faculty research and teaching collaborations is an important part of this tool,” Wilczek said. He added that since interdisciplinary research and teaching have such a big emphasis at Tufts, Profiles will serve as a way to develop an infrastructure to continue supporting such research.

The open−source software for Profiles was originally created by Harvard Catalyst: The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center and then modified for use at Tufts with the help of Tufts Office of Information Technology (OIT) at the Tufts University School of Medicine, West explained.

Tufts CTSI, which was created in 2008, began conversations with the Tufts School of Medicine in 2009, according to Triant. A steering committee was then created to discuss the implementation of Profiles with OIT representatives.

The initiative was supported by a grant through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, West said. “All the CTSIs in Massachusetts are using Profiles,” Wilczek said.

He added that Profiles will help to encourage bench−to−bedside medical research and speed up the transition of laboratory discoveries into medical treatments.

“This is just the first stage,” Triant said. “We currently have about 1,400 profiles and we represent 42 other institutions. Researchers may have their primary appointment at the [Tufts] School of Medicine but might work at other institutions.”

Profiles will continue to expand and improve with the addition of more profiles and further enhancements, according to Triant.

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