TSL Status August 8, 2006

08 Aug
Published by gtaylor

Community 

general open research

Its been a long, hot, fun summer for me. Due to budgetary constraints, I chose not to send my kids to weekly day camps. This was the first summer I didnt officially work since I was 15 and its been great to spend it with my kids. I still managed to work mornings, a few evenings and Mondays when my mom took the kids. Did I say I wasnt working?? See below for our accomplishments this summer.

Accomplishments

Non-Profit Status Official Designation By the IRS

We mailed our application for 501(c)(3) designation to the IRS (U.S. tax organization) by the end of May. We must have followed directions appropriately as there were no follow up questions and we were approved within a month. We have our official designation letter and can now operate as a public charity.

This means we are now eligible for more grants and we can also accept U.S. tax-deductible donations from the public. For information on where to send checks, see our About page.

The official recognition by the IRS should also give you a general sense of comfort that we are operating with the appropriate checks and balances to ensure that funds are being used per our stated charitable intentions.

Marc is Settled in His New Lab in Spain

Marc has moved from the Sali lab at UCSF and is now the head of the Structural Genomics Unit at the Prince Filipe Center of Investigation in Valencia Congratulations Marc and we look forward to you spreading the word in Europe as well as you did in the San Francisco bay area.

New Community Leader for Malaria Community

Saj (Mohmammad Sajid) has agreed to be our champion for our malaria research community. Hes part of the McKerrow lab at UCSF and is extremely knowledgeable in parasitology. Hes beginning to plug into our processes and will have some updates for the community pages soon.

Article Published About The Synaptic Leap

Mat Todds article, Open Source Research “ The Power of Us, piqued the interest of Sarah Everts at Chemical & Engineering News, a widely read publication by scientistis. The article she wrote, Open-Source Science has helped other people to discover us. We have more registered users and Im seeing more back-and-forth on the site rather than just via email. Ahh its starting to feel more like a community.

Thanks Sarah!

Site Adoption Trends Going Up

Metcalfs Law is very pertinent to what we are about. The more scientists participating in our community, the higher the likelihood of getting ideas and assistance on your projects. Were still new and frankly just beginning to behave like a real online community. The great news is that the trends are headed in the right direction:

  • Weve had nearly a 60% increase in unique site visitors between April and July.
  • The number of visits per day has roughly doubled since April.
  • Our registered user count has more than doubled since April.
  • Were getting some cross-site collaboration with the people on the Useful Chemistry Blog
  • And most importantly were getting more interest in open research projects both publicly stated and a few still brewing behind the scenes in email.

TDI Founders Named in 50 People Who Matter by Business 2.0

Our close partners and advisors from Tropical Disease Initiative have been officially recognized for their vision and passion for open source biomedical research. The list of 50 people is a very elite group. This is a significant recognition that open-source biomedical research is ripe and needed. Congratulations! Check out the article here: http://money.cnn.com/popups/2006/biz2/peoplewhomatter/frameset.41.exclude.html

TSL Flyer Available for Distribution

I created a 2 page flyer for people to distribute at their labs or conferences. Distribute as you see fit and by all means email me or post a comment for feedback.

Evolving the Gene Wiki Concepts

TDI and TSL get a lot of email from people asking how they can help. Ive decided the Gene Wiki, Marcs inspiration, is a great tool for allowing the heavy lifting of a few to pull in minor contributions of the scattered, distributed many. Ive tweaked a few of his concepts functionally and am working with Marc to refine the functionality and the data we will be leveraging. Our planned pilot for this will be for malaria. Were working with Dany (Dhanasekaran Shanmugam) who works in the David S. Roos lab . Hes giving us input on how best to leverage the data in PlasmoDB. Dany is also providing valuable input on the functional design. Thanks Dany!

As the design solidifies, I will post an update on the site for broader comments. We plan to use our functional design as input for a grant application to get the tool added to The Synaptic Leap for all to use.

You Can Subscribe to Emails to Get the Latest Posts

Our site has always offered RSS feeds. However a lot of people still prefer email to keep up to date on things. To find out how to keep up with the latest posts on TSL via email, check out the Site Level Email Subscriptions post.

Battling Site Spam

Spam robots are beginning to invade. They started off registering on our site and then posting lots of links to buy certain perscription drugs. (I refuse to give them more web presence and name them.) I added a Captcha module which now requires people to type in fuzzy letters that they see during the registration process. A user account wont be established until you prove that youre human. That stopped things “ for a while. Apparently theres a ringtones spam bot out there thats really clever and can read those crazy letters too. On a long shot, I did some digging and found the originator of the spam bot and wrote an email asking them stop. Believe it or not its been a few days and it seems to have stopped. Is it possible these guys have a conscience?

Future Action Items

The kids start school at the end of the month and I anticipate being able to get more active. Upcoming activities and priorities:

Leaders at The Synaptic Leap are Attending Conferences

The more we talk about it and get feedback, the faster we can evolve our concepts and can increase our user adoption.

  • Mat and Saj are both attending the International Congress of Parasitology in Glasgow. Mat plans to discuss TSL at the conference.
  • Ginger is attending Science Foo Camp. Science Foo Camp is a conference for cross-disciplined scientists as well as a few software geeks. The conference is sponsored by Google, Nature, and OReilly. I plan to discuss our objectives and methods for open-source biomedical research at The Synaptic Leap. I plan to post the presentation afterwards.

Find a Community Leader for Chagas

Guido David Nunez-Mujica, a biology student from the Laboratory of Parasite Enzimology at La Universidad De Los Andes in Venezuela, is refining an open project for Chagas. We need a Chagas expert to champion and provide online leadership. See this resources wanted post for more information. Once we have our leader, well set up the Chagas research community at TSL.

Next Board Meeting Scheduled for August 28

Budget and fundraising will of course be a significant part of our agenda. Feel free to email me or other board members if you have something specific you think we should discuss.

Refine and Post Functional Design of Gene Wiki

Post a reasonable draft of a functional design for the Gene Wiki and invite feedback from The Synaptic Leap community.