By July 1, 2008, we'll pilot the tools and technologies needed to make this happen.
What will we launch on that date? Call it Facebook meets eHarmony for the Harvard community.
The Catalyst portal brings together numerous federated databases at Harvard into a new social networking application. It's the Cool Technology of the Week and here's how it works.
Harvard has a basic faculty database that includes information about every faculty member, such as their title, institutional affiliation, and email address. We can use that email address to match data feeds from the 17 affiliated Harvard hospitals and provide additional hospital specific information about each faculty member.
A person directory with email, phone and address sounds like bread and butter IT. Here's the cool part. We use the demographic information of each faculty member to connect to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed repository via web services. PubMed returns a list of all the publications of the faculty member plus all the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH terms) associated with each publication. We can then use these terms to map the interests of each person and compare these interests to every other Harvard faculty member (that's the eHarmony part). From the screen capture above, you can see a listing of my Keywords, my co-Authors and the Similar People to me. I can then click on people like me, read their Profile pages, and describe my relationship to them (that's the Facebook/LinkedIn/Plaxo part). I can also see all my advisors, advisees, and departmental colleagues and connect to them in one click.
People profiles and collaborators is just one aspect of Catalyst. It also includes Matchmaking to find skills and resources based on declared areas of expertise.
It includes an overview of all the Research Cores throughout Harvard, their scope, and contact information.
It includes Harvard-wide Events and Conferences in one easy to use cross-organizational interface.
It includes an Atlas of every associated institution's maps, phone numbers, and websites.
Finally, it includes SHRINE, an innovative, web-services based federated data mining tool that enables clinical research among all the data at all Harvard hospitals with appropriate privacy protection and IRB oversight. This infrastructure is so revolutionary that I will write a separate blog entry about it.
On July 1, we'll have pilot versions of each of these functions live.
For other CTSAs in the US (there are 60 of them) wanting more detail, we've created a matrix with a comprehensive listing of our Catalyst portal functionality.
The CTSA at Harvard is the catalyst we've needed to implement web 2.0 for HMS, part of our vision to embrace social networking for every environment.