Collaborations in biomedical research are vital, and a new tool offered by the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) will help researchers plug into the wealth of expertise across the university and its affiliates.
The researcher database “is about making research connections. It’s a way to build your research team,” said Alison Hall, PhD, associate dean for research workforce development.
The Faculty Research link, found on the SMHS website under the Research page, allows a user to search for researchers in many ways: via first and last name, department, keyword, research method, or even research level.
When developing the tool, Hall said her goal was to create a resource where investigators could identify which of their colleagues might be doing the same or similar research, such as in neurology, cancer or heart disease, and who might be using innovative technical approaches in their work.
While there already are some tools available for finding this information, including the GW Expert Finder, they do not cover all investigators, including many researchers in clinical departments, Hall said. The new database has information on more than 420 researchers at SMHS, Children’s National Health System, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW, and even GW investigators at Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
With such a robust list of researchers, a new employee could use the database to answer such questions as “who is working in diabetes?” or “who is working on genomics research?”
Initially, information for the database came from researchers who had existing funding from the National Institutes of Health or who had foundation funding, but Hall wanted to ensure the inclusion of investigators conducting research in clinical departments that might not have such funding.
“Here, we took advantage of faculty annual reporting,” Hall explained. “Every year, faculty members are asked to describe, among other things, their research and scholarship. We asked Faculty Affairs for the answer to a Lyterati question about the research done this year. Lyterati is an electronic annual faculty reporting system.
That information was added to the database, and Hall and her team then searched for additional information about each researcher. However, there’s always new information and new investigators to add to the database, she noted.
Faculty members who want their profiles updated are encouraged to reach out to Laura Radville, PhD in Research Workforce Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, researchers who have comments and suggestions on the platform are welcome to contact Hall.
“We’re trying to make it as useful as we can,” Hall said. “We need to hear from users; we need to hear what’s working and what’s not.”