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Social Network for Translational Scientists Launched

To enhance the career development of scientists and science trainees who hope to translate laboratory research into clinical medicine, AAAS, Science Careers, and Science have launched a new online social-networking site called CTSciNet, the Clinical and Translational Science Network.

(PRWEB) November 6, 2009 -- Launched October 20 by Science Careers, AAAS's career development initiative, CTSciNet is an online community for people pursuing careers in clinical and translational research. CTSciNet aims to encourage and support scientists and trainees who wish to become a part of the clinical and translational research community. The site was developed by AAAS with continuing contributions from several other scientific societies. It was funded by a generous grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a long-time supporter of Science Careers.

CTSciNet “seeks to promote the professional development of the scientists while helping to meet key science policy objectives,” said Jim Austin, editor of Science Careers and principal investigator for the CTSciNet project. With CTSciNet, “We want to show early career scientists how they can help solve one of the most important scientific challenges of our lifetimes: figuring out how to efficiently translate scientific breakthroughs into practical therapies.”

In recent years, major scientific advances have not reliably lead to new treatments for disease. The pipeline of new drugs, for example, has stagnated even as important breakthroughs, such as the sequencing of the human genome, have opened up vast new terrain for scientific investigation.

CTSciNet's efforts to address these challenges are two-fold: First, it will work with several key medical-science organizations to develop new articles and resources and to pool existing excellent ones to provide focused specific career guidance for early career translational scientists. Several articles and resources are already available on the site. Second, CTSciNet will engage the community with its social network, which is designed to help scientists find other scientists with similar or complementary interests, form partnerships and collaborations, and discuss career-related and scientific issues.

José Fernández, CTSciNet’s community manager, said that there “is a large group of scientists looking for professional resources to help them connect with scientists at all stages—from mentors, to colleagues, to the next generation of researchers.”

“These resources,” he added, “provide a virtual campus for scientists spread out across the world.”
Fernández explained that the network contains features similar to those offered by Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networks. But since it is monitored by Science Careers staff and populated exclusively by scientists and science trainees who are interested in careers in clinical and translational science, science professionals are likely to find CTSciNet is considerably more focused.

Scientists from all disciplines—with clinical or basic science training, or both—are invited to join the network. Also welcome are people from other fields, such as business and clinical medicine, who wish to explore the possibilities for turning science into new and potentially profitable new technologies.

CTSciNet is a free, secure virtual community for scientists at all career stages. After registering, users can post and respond to questions on career-related, academic, scientific, or social subjects; join virtual groups on specific topics or for specific organizations; read articles on navigating a career path; and pass along articles and hyperlinks from outside resources. CTSciNet users can join discussion groups on clinical trials, commercialization and entrepreneurship, ontology and bioinformatics, and many other subjects, and read articles on paying off graduate school debt, the academic tenure process, M.D.-Ph.D. dual-degree programs, and how basic scientists can work closer to the clinic. Other features will be added in the coming months and years.

William F. Crowley Jr., M.D., founder and outgoing chair of the Clinical Research Forum, a partner organization of CTSciNet, said that the biggest disease-related challenges facing society are being addressed by large teams of scientists across many scientific disciplines. This raises difficult questions for collaborating researchers.

“Creating resources and networks that bring scientists together to talk about practicing in their field is critical for moving the discipline forward,” said Crowley, who is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of reproductive endocrinology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “These networks facilitate discussions amongst scientists to ensure solutions to both professional and social concerns.”

CTSciNet’s partners are: the Association of American Medical Colleges; the American Federation for Medical Research; the American Physician Scientist Association; the American Society for Clinical Investigation; the Association for Clinical Research Training; the Burroughs Wellcome Fund; the Clinical Research Forum; the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the Health Research Alliance; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Science Translational Medicine; and the Society for Clinical and Translational Science.

Beyond CTSciNet, Science Careers offers a wide range of resources for scientists of all background and stages of education. The program develops online articles, booklets, webinars, and workshop—all free of charge—as part of AAAS's mission to further careers in science and technology, with an emphasis on fostering greater diversity in the scientific community.


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