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Collaborative Science Systems (CSS)

Vinit Mahajan, Director

Our horizontal-integration platform allows scientists and clinicians at remote locations to effectively collaborate on every aspect of discovery and analysis. Our approach provides broad access, promotes collaborative work, and facilitates immediate sharing of data. We take full advantage of modern advances in communication technology, visual imaging, and global transport to maximize the utility of our work. Its possible to connect labs with particular expertise and specialization to tackle problems with increased productivity and negligible costs. In many cases, these remote collaborations are as easy or better than collaborations with labs on the same campus.

Electronic Communication

Research teams utilize devices to facilitate time and space neutral communication. On shared, secure networks, we communicate through email, texting, video conferencing, and document sharing as outlined below.

Document Sharing

A key aspect of successful remote collaborations is fluid document sharing. Dropbox, Googledocs, and Box allow documents from collaborative projects to be stored “in the cloud” where they are at the fingertips of any team member, wherever they are. This document-sharing approach is self-updating, so teams can seamlessly create documents together. Team members can work asynchronously to ‘crowd-source” projects and manuscripts. Standardized procedures keep everyone in sync.

Video Conferencing

Real-time idea sharing via video-conferencing works around problems associated with waiting to communicate at scientific meetings, for publication of peer-reviewed papers, or even communicating via e-mail (with its inherent tendencies for misunderstanding). Video-conferencing is often the fastest, most efficient way for distant researchers to come together in a meaningful way. We use Zoom and Skype platforms.

Data Exchange

Clinical and experimental data are loaded into database documents and available as password-protected files so that researchers and clinicians will have immediate access to data. This eliminates the substantial lag time introduced by the usual routes of collaboration and makes immediately available the pertinent data needed for diagnosis and discovery.

Tissue Sharing

We offer researchers remote access to high quality tissues for RNA, DNA, and protein analysis, or histological visualization of the delicate structures comprising the eye. We routinely prepare, package, and send samples via FedEx and UPS to locations in the US and worldwide. A remote-access, online database provides researchers and clinicians rapid access to curated datasets concerning phenotypes, diseases, and tissue analysis.

Stanford surgeons and scientists collaborate by using a Mobile Operating Room Laboratory Interface (MORLI) that links the operating room with the research laboratory. The MORLI is the cornerstone of the Stanford Biorepository of Eye & Surgical Tissue (BEST) in the Department of Ophthalmology. To date, several thousand bar-coded samples have been organized in the biorepository where they can be easily retrieved for current and future investigations of disease mechanisms, therapeutics, and diagnostics. A custom database streamlines tissue sample logging and retrieval, and it is linked to retrospective and prospective clinical data (all IRB approved). The database system has made finding multiple or rare specimens easy to locate. Collected samples can be shared by researchers at Stanford and potentially with scientific collaborators across the country and around the world. 

Animal Sharing

Animals are shared upon request, offering researchers around the globe access to our disease models for collaborative analysis that is supported by our horizontal platform. Animals are routinely prepared, packaged, and shipped and reproducibly arrive in excellent condition. We also interact with commercial labs to support animal distribution.

Meeting Coordination

Our collaborative approach fills communication gaps with opportunities for face-to-face interaction, meeting for annual exchanges in labs, and coordinating attendance at national and international meetings.

Administrative Support

On-site editors, secretaries, librarians, technicians, artists, and clinical research coordinators streamline the process, supporting scientists and clinicians in research and data dissemination. These specialists help researchers and clinicians navigate the bureaucratic hurdles that can drain resources and slow the pace of discovery.