Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Translating Science into Solutions for Better Health

SC CTSI Launches New Digital Scholar Initiative To Help Researchers Better Utilize the Web


Interested researchers at USC and CHLA are invited to apply by Sep 8, 2014.

"There has never been a better moment for researchers to use the World Wide Web as a unique resource to secure funding, expand their teams through networking, increase the reach and impact of their research, and inform their work through digital data in new ways,” said Katja Reuter, PhD, director of Digital Strategy and the eHome program at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI).

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This workshop series, which is designed for faculty, clinician-scientists, post-doctoral scholars, and PhD students, will provide researchers with the knowledge they need to take advantage of these untapped opportunities.

Participants will get an overview of various digital scholarship approaches and receive hands-on training, allowing them to apply the new knowledge to advance their specific research and career goals. The training will have a special focus on clinical and translational health sciences.

Digital Scholar Workshop Series at a Glance

Application deadline is Sep 8, 2014. Awardees will be informed by Sep 12, 2014.

Designed for: Faculty, clinician-scientists, post-doctoral scholars, PhDs; USC/CHLA community
Location (all workshops): USC Health Sciences Campus, CSC, Harkness Auditorium, 2250 Alcazar Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089

“The evolution of the Internet and Web has created a revolution, changing virtually every aspect of our society. The changes extend to scientific research, from science philanthropy, collaboration, and intellectual property to communicating science and participating in research,” said Randolph Hall, vice president of research and a professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, who is supporting this new series through the USC Center for Excellence in Research.

Partnering with Experiment, Crowdfunding Experts

For one of the four workshops, “Leverage Crowdfunding: How to obtain alternative seed funding,” SC CTSI is partnering with Experiment, a donation-based for-profit crowdfunding platform built for scientists to raise funds through engaging with a community of science patrons.

“Although science crowdfunding is still in its infancy, there are a few encouraging examples where researchers in academia or the private sector have successfully used it to supplement and substitute their grants,” said Reuter. “Few researchers are comfortable with online crowdfunding. We hope that in the future it will become second nature.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to develop crowdfunding campaigns with the Experiment team, post their campaigns on the Experiment website and get marketing support to try to achieve their funding goals.

“We’re excited to be participating in this innovative training with USC and SC CTSI to share our insights from over 400 crowdfunding research projects, and help scientists navigate the digital age” said Cindy Wu, co-founder at Experiment.com. “We believe the real value of research is in the process and engagement with the public. Donors get to be part of the research experience real-time, whilst researchers get to engage with real people who care about their research.”

Partnering with Symplur, a Social Media Consultancy

In a second partnership, SC CTSI will be joined by experts from Symplur, a healthcare social media consultancy, to highlight novel digital and social media data strategies in support of research. This workshop will focus on how to use this type of data, its limitations, and how to find and engage potential research participants online.

“With over 80 percent of Americans seeking health information online and nearly 70 percent of all Internet users in the United States using digital and social media, the impacts of this trend on health and research provide a huge opportunity that  – for the most part – is still untapped,” said Reuter.

The Symplur team will introduce participants to its new Signals application that provides access to more than 500 million healthcare related tweets and 185 million user profiles from Twitter, all segmented by thousands of healthcare relevant topics. Additionally, the team will offer a free 30-minute explorative consulting session to each participant tailored to how their own research can leverage social media data.

"We’ve observed a tremendous growth in public social media use by both healthcare providers and patients in recent years. The data that is being collected is incredibly rich and the insights and stories that can be found from analyzing it are profound. This workshop is on the forefront of research in digital healthcare. We couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with USC on this ground-breaking training series,” said Audun Utengen, MBA, co-founder of Symplur.

This workshop will provide researchers with the knowledge they need to leverage these untapped opportunities.

The series is supported by the USC Office of Research and SC CTSI and is being developed in collaboration with:

  • Jonathan M. Samet, MD, MS, Distinguished Professor and Flora L. Thornton Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Director, USC Institute for Global Health, Director of the SC CTSI Education, Career Development, and Ethics program;
  • Cecilia Patino-Sutton, MD, PhD, Director of the SC CTSI Education program, Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI), Keck School of Medicine of USC;
  • Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, PhD, Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs, School of Pharmacy, Chair of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences Department, Director of the SC CTSI Research Education program; and
  • Melanie Funes, PhD, SC CTSI Director of Strategic Implementation and Associate director of SC CTSI Research Education.