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Scientists Without Borders

Have you ever wondered how your day-to-day work in the lab can contribute to health and science efforts in the developing world? The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) is inviting scientists to offer up their skills and resources toward an effort called "Scientists Without Borders," an online portal that will go live this spring. Not only will researchers be able to offer their skills and expertise, they can also set up collaborations and request patient samples or specimens from organizations

By | February 21, 2008

Have you ever wondered how your day-to-day work in the lab can contribute to health and science efforts in the developing world? The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) is inviting scientists to offer up their skills and resources toward an effort called "Scientists Without Borders," an online portal that will go live this spring. Not only will researchers be able to offer their skills and expertise, they can also set up collaborations and request patient samples or specimens from organizations in the developing world, said Evelyn Strauss, executive director of the program. "This will allow people to match needs with resources." As of today, more than 470 individuals, 85 organizations, and 56 Projects have registered. NYAS isn't the only organization trying to connect scientists with projects in the developing world. In a 2006 article in __The Scientist__, linkurl:Harold Varmus;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23543/ described another initiative called linkurl:Global Career Corps;http://www.msi-sig.org/scicorp.html that aims to connect researchers with laboratories in need. (According to the Science Initiative Group, which oversees the Global Career Corp, that project does not currently have operating funds.) What's unique about the NYAS initiative, said Strauss, is the extent of the resources that will be available, which could include supplies and samples as well as services and expertise. An linkurl:online slide-show;http://scientistswithoutborders.nyas.org/Default.aspx takes viewers to the site's future home page, which illustrates the resources most needed and the resources most commonly offered in the entire network. Some of the resources listed as examples include: translator, taxonomy expert, biochemistry instructor and anesthesia equipment. In order to create a page for themselves or their organization in the database, individuals must enter their contact information, describe the resources and services they are willing to offer and their expertise and background, and indicate whether they are willing to travel. Individuals will be able to search the database to find organizations that are looking for their skills and expertise. The search engine will find synonyms, so that an organization that is looking for a truck will be able to find one that is offering a lorry. For more about science in the developing world, look out for our feature article, "Implementing Change," in the March issue of The Scientist.
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