Published by gtaylor on 29 January 2006 - 10:46pm

Open Source Biomedical Research for the 21st Century

Biomedical science is indivisible. The physical and psychological barriers that divide scientific communities are ultimately artificial and counterproductive. We see online collaboration as a natural way to bridge these gaps and pool information that is currently too fragmented for anyone to use. An open, collaborative research community will find new ways to do science, answering questions that current institutions find difficult or impossible. The Synaptic Leap's mission is to empower scientists to make the dream a reality.


Diseases found exclusively in tropical regions predominantly afflict poor people in developing countries. The typical profit-driven pharmaceutical economic model fails with these diseases because there is simply no money to be made. However, the very fact that there's no profit incentive to research these diseases makes them perfect candidates for open source style research; there's no profit incentive to keep secrets either. Our pilot research communities focusing on tropical diseases are:

We have no intention of ever dictating what medical research communities spring up within our site. Instead, we believe that the market will naturally drive that evolution. The more successful our model of scientific research is, the more broadly it will apply to other diseases. We are starting with tropical diseases because they have the biggest need and we intend to evolve our community infrastructure aggressively listening to these scientists.

How do we solve problems?

Imagine you have a difficult problem you need to solve. What do you do? You ask someone! We have always collaborated with others to solve problems more quickly than we could on our own. Open source communities are no different. Rather than walking to a colleague's office, or calling someone on the phone, we post on this site. TSL is a massively distributed collaboration, made possible by the transforming power of the web.

Summary Call to Action

Open source communities are only as strong as the people who support them. To begin participating you need to create a username for yourself and login. Get off the sidelines and become a part of this revolutionary new experiment!

Additional Information

Global Collaboration to Fight Malaria

Mat Todd's talk on open science at Ignite Sydney, July 2010 

Mat Todd's talk on Open Science at Google 

Getting Started - our "user guide" describing more about The Synaptic Leap community infrastructure and tools.

Presentation on The Synaptic Leap, superdeck presentation created by Ginger discussing The Synaptic Leap and her vision for open source biomedical research.

Tropical Disease Initiative, general information about our initial customer and partner.

Open-Source Science, article in Chemical & Engineering News that introduces The Synaptic Leap.

Open Source Research - the Power of Us - Australian Journal of Chemistry article on Mat Todd's schisto project.

Finding Cures for Tropical Diseases: Is Open Source an Answer - essay published on PLoS and written by founding members of the Tropical Disease Initiative and advisors to The Synaptic Leap.

Can open-source R&D reinvigorate drug research? - article in Nature by Bernard Munos at Eli Lilly. He gives a thorough description of his vision for open source science and how pharmaceutical companies can and should play a role.

Open and Collaborative Research: A New Model for Collaborative Medicine, written by Arti Rai. Arti is a Duke Law professor and expert in patent law, law and the biopharmaceutical industry, and health care regulation. She is also a founding member of Tropical Disease Initiative and an advisor to Science Commons and The Synaptic Leap.

An Open Source Shot in The Arm, The Economist June 10, 2004 writing about the Tropical Disease Initiative.

The Law of Unintended Consequences, Fortune September 2005 article describing the impact of the Bayh-Dole act. Although this law has had some very positive results, there are also some negative consequences that the public should be aware of.

Collaborative Drug Discovery's web-database enables scientists to archive, mine, and collaborate to more effectively develop new drug candidates for commercial and humanitarian markets.


general open research