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Media is revolutionizing science in all its forms, from patient access to information, to technologies doctors use to diagnose and treat, to how science research brings solutions to global health problems. The JUST Science Section discusses the various ways media drives scientific advances and affects social change.

Karina Saravia
Lisa MattsonMarisa Co






Kay BaldwinDoug Fleischli



Working Together to Cure - The Value of Open Communication in Scientific Discovery

Marisa Co
May, 2011 

Open communication amongst scientists has opened the door to a new model of scientific research where scientists from around the world, both in academia and industry, are joining forces to develop solutions to world diseases.

The concept, although new in an industry where secrecy prevails such as pharmaceuticals, has its origins in the early 1990 with the Linux operating system where developers shared, modified and distributed source code freely over the internet.

In life science, the Human Genome Project was one of the most successful open source models which allowed biologists, geneticists, and other scientists from around the world to discover and sequence our genetic makeup.

In 2004, drug giant Eli Lilly span out Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD), a software company that provides a web-based database solution for managing drug discovery data and makes molecules and their associated screening data available to the research community. CDD has partnered with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support research combating Tuberculosis and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) who in 2010 released a library of compounds against Malaria. Other large pharmaceutical companies such as Sanofi Aventis and Astra Zeneca joined the effort in what is now called the MM4TB (More Medicines for Tuberculosis Consortium).

It is hoped that open source innovation could not only accelerate but also decrease the costs of discoveries in an industry where pipelines have been dwindling while investments in R&D have skyrocketed over the last decade.

The life science community around the world is just beginning to unleash the power of open communication and to shift the mindsets of scientists and companies towards new business models where shared innovation and boundless collaboration may benefit society as a whole.


The Science of Building Trust With Social Media

Written by Greg Ferenstein and posted on Mashable

The Internet-era has made establishing trust an increasingly complicated issue. Our finely tuned ability to read facial expressions does not apply to e-mail, and emoticons are, at best, an imperfect substitute for sarcastic inflection (raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten into trouble for typing something that was meant to be a joke). So, how can we establish trust when our online identities are often little more than an avatar and few lines of text?

Fortunately, some in the scientific community have taken it upon themselves to help us through the confusion. Through both laboratory studies and field observation of people conversing over the Internet, scientists can survey when participants are likely to trust word-of-mouth or stab an absent colleague in the back. I sat down with a leading figure in this field, Professor Judy Olson, to talk about the essentials of building trust with digital communication.

See Link to the complete article:


5 Stellar Ways to Explore Space Using Social Media 

Written by Amy-Mae Elliott and posted on Mashable

Space — the final frontier, and all that jazz. As the folk over at the Hubble Telescope website say, “Your body may be trapped at your desk, but your imagination can roam the far reaches of the universe, thanks to the wonders of the web.”

Here’s a spaced-out selection of sites and social media resources that will have you reading the thoughts of astronauts, taking a virtual tour of the International Space Station, and viewing galaxies far, far away.



International Science Collaboration with the Middle East and North Africa

Scientific diplomacy often goes unnoticed in the flash and bang of regional conflicts. This is a fascinating article, which touches on the importance that wars and hearts can be won by scientists working together to address problems and improve the lives of the suffering. Scientists can also serve as role models to the younger generation with the hope to inspire economic innovation and creativity. --Doug Fleischli

Article Introduction:
By Dr. Farouk El-Baz | Monday, March 28th, 2011 | Share This | Print Print
This is the second in our series of contributions on the topic of science diplomacy, the first installment can be found here. Dr. Farouk El-Baz believes that reviving the science attaché program can help the U.S. overcome barriers to collaboration with the Middle East and help bring about change while furthering diplomatic interests.

See the entire article:


Emerging issue: Social Media, Why are researchers lagging behind?

Dr. James Edgar Till, a University of Toronto biophysicist is encouraging his colleagues to embrace the "Open Access Moment" and devote significant time to organizing meaningful discussions online, which will lead to collaboration and scientific breakthoughs. He points out that social media platforms are the means to share and discuss research. Using social media is not the perfect solution, but it does motivate thinking and discussion. --Doug Fleischli

Article Introduction:

Could social media be an important research tool, or is it the "online equivalent of junk mail?"

Impact sent some questions to Dr. James Edgar Till, a University of Toronto biophysicist best known for demonstrating – with Ernest McCulloch – the existence of stem cells. Prior to 1980, Dr. Till's research focussed on biophysics and cellular biology. Those interests later shifted into evaluating cancer therapies and quality of life issues, and Internet research, including Internet research ethics and the ethics of List mining.

Now retired, Till continues to be a vocal proponent of open access to scientific publications and is devoting his retirement to exploring social networking tools as a way to foster its development. An editorial member of the open access Journal of Medical Internet Research, he publishes two blogs, one focussed on the Open Access movement, "Be openly accessible or be obscure" (, the other on news about cancer stem cell research ( He is also a frequent user of Twitter ( and FriendFeed (

See full article:


Citizen Scientists Sharing Information on the Internet

By Doug Fleishli

In the wake the earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan and the population's doubts on the reliable information coming from the Japanese government, citizens are taking matters into their own hands. According to a recent article from NPR (see link below), residents on both sides of the Pacific are banding together to create a grassroots radiation monitoring system, which includes purchasing Geiger counters and posting the findings on a website called Safecast. The website was setup by individuals naturally concerned about getting the facts on the severity of the radiation links from the damaged nuclear plants.

See YouTube Video:

The article uses the term “crowdsourcing” – typically defined as the act of outsourcing tasks to a large group of people -  to refer to people in any location recording radiation readings on their newly purchased Geiger counter and posting them in real time through a website. So far, there have been 100 records of data being collected from both Japanese citizens and government officials. The big question is: "Are the readings accurate?"

Experts in the field of radiation detection recommend caution when interpreting results obtained by untrained individuals, either because the devices may not have the capabilities to measure specific type of radiation (alpha, beta, gamma, neutron radiation, etc.) or because these instruments may provide false reading due to their extreme sensitivity to factors such as mix of radioactive materials present.   

The Internet has allowed citizens, known as citizen journalists,  to collect, report and disseminate information, which may or may not be validated in its accuracy.  Thus, in their desire to be helpful to society, citizen journalists posting radiation readings around the world may inadvertently cause more confusion and lead to misinterpretation of reported data.

See the entire story:


Picture post: world map of scientific collaboration

Check out a set of images that vividly identify the significant increase in scientific collaboration between researchers around the world. Olivier H. Beauchesne of Science-Metrix created the map, which is similar to the Facebook friendship map. He used bibliographic database consisting of citation networks, authors and their affiliations and abstracts. For example, when a scientist in London works with a colleague in Los Angeles to prepare a joint paper on Asian plate tectonics, this would be a collaboration would be illustrated as a stream of light between LA and London.--Doug Fleischli
Article Introduction:

This gossamer image of scientific collaboration displays connections between cities 2005-09, based on shared authorship of research papers in Elsevier’s Scopus database.

The map was created by Olivier H. Beauchesne, who works forScience-Metrix, a consulting firm that uses bibliographic data to measure the growth of science publications around the world. Beauchesne explains more about how he made the image (and links to high-resolution versions) on his blog. Hat-tip for this and smaller images: Flowing Data.

See images by clicking the website below:
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