31/10/07

New web portal connects tropical disease research

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[BEIJING] A web portal to help people identify and use vital information related to infectious diseases was launched yesterday (30 October) at Forum 11, the annual meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research.

TropIKA.net, run by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), will provide free information chosen by experts for practical use in infectious disease studies.

"It works as a window reflecting what’s going on in this field," said Robert G. Ridley, director of TDR, at the launch event.

Ridley said that increased funding for tropical diseases, along with open-access efforts from publishers and research institutes, has led to large amounts of available information, but this is often dispersed across various sources and offers inconsistent conclusions.

At TropIKA.net, leading experts in the field are invited to analyse the scientific literature to provide clear information of its worth to researchers in developing countries for their work in tropical diseases.

The website also provides facilities for researchers to exchange their views and collects literature into topics to form a larger library of specific research areas.

Besides academic literature, the TropIKa.net website also provides overviews of infectious diseases, news, commissioned reviews on key issues in the field, and scientific and strategic policy briefs.

"Unlike an academic search engine, our portal is unique in having strong backup support from top researchers in the field, helping build up a community of people involved in the field of infectious diseases," Ridley told SciDev.Net.

The website is mainly financed by TDR, with a variety of partners including health organisations, open-access journals and initiatives to provide free-access research literature.

Zhou Xiaonong, deputy director of Shanghai-based National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, says that TropIKa.net is not limited to providing information on tropical diseases. Chinese scientists studying infectious diseases can also find important information to guide their research.

"More importantly, it helps bring Chinese researchers of infectious diseases into a global community of the field," Zhou told SciDev.Net.