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Headlines Published on 10 February 2006

Title Medical findings at your fingertips

Thousands of leading researchers and clinicians are contributing to a new on-line service, called ‘Faculty of 1000 Medicine’, to help medics keep abreast of valuable new research. The site will review important medical articles and related trends. When time is of the essence – and a diagnosis remains elusive – consulting thousands of peers in one action could save lives.

A faculty of thousands at your disposal. © PhotoDisc
A faculty of thousands at your disposal.
© PhotoDisc
Sitting on the bathroom cabinet, four-year-old Rose was watching her dad shave when she teetered on the verge of falling. This happened again soon after. Within hours she was in a children’s hospital in Australia and doctors were carrying out tests – they suspected epilepsy. But the blackouts were worsening and scans indicated some major swelling in the brain (vasculitis). The doctors started trawling the Net in the hope of finding similar cases. Help eventually came from Europe and Canada but not in time to prevent two paralysing strokes.

Could Faculty of 1000 Medicine have provided more timely information about a successful treatment regime for this case? It is possible. The site is based on the successful ‘Faculty of 1000 Biology’ model, which counts 80% of the world’s top institutions as subscribers.

Faculty members send in short evaluations of a few interesting articles that they have read in the previous month, along with a rating called the ‘F1000 factor’ (i.e. ‘exceptional’, ‘must read’ or ‘recommended’), and information about the article type and which specialists might be interested in it.

The service is overseen by an international advisory board of world leaders in medicine, including Steven Hyman, provost of Harvard University (US), Sir Keith Peters, emeritus regius professor of Physics at Cambridge University (UK), and Hans Wigzell, director of the Centre of Medical Information, Karolinska Institute (SE).

Divided into 18 faculties, the service covers the full gambit of medicine, from anaesthesiology and pain management to oncology, infectious diseases and women’s health. It is further divided into approximately 200 sections representing specific research areas, which are cross-indexed to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of medicine.

Sea of literature
Evaluations are systematically organised according to subject keywords and are cross-linked to make it easy for users to find evaluations in their specialty. Visitors can also customise the service to their interests (with the ‘My F1000 Medicine’ function) and opt for regular updates by e-mail, including stored keyword searches, at a frequency that suits them. Meanwhile, the ‘Top 10’ most viewed papers function shows the most read papers that week.

Search results initially list papers chronologically, but these can be sorted by the ‘F1000 factor’ or by other criteria. A special ‘clinical impact’ label is also applied to highlight research findings which could have an immediate effect on clinical practice.

“It is impossible to read all of the articles that one should, and medicine is becoming more and more interdisciplinary. Timely, concise evaluations from peers that one respects are a lifeline in the sea of literature,” Jean-Louis Vincent, head of Faculty 1000’s critical care and emergency medicine, said in a statement.

All along, one of the ambitions of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research has been to boost research and information exchange among researchers both inside and outside the European Research Area. Networking activities and funding for projects aimed at building and/or strengthening ties within the scientific community are the main instruments for achieving this goal. Platforms, such as the Faculty 1000’s service – and open access web-sorting and -publishing solutions (see Headlines 14 November 2005) – can also help Europe achieve its goals.

Source:  Faculty of 1000, EU

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More information:

  • Open access journals are a hit, study confirms (European Research Headlines 14 November 2005)

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