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New online system helps researchers share information

Apr. 11, 2013, 9:34 AM

A new Web-based scientific information management system called “Labnodes” is helping Vanderbilt University investigators collaborate and get more bang for their research bucks.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Mark Magnuson, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Center for Stem Cell Biology, and project leader. “Over time, Labnodes will transform how our laboratories are managed and how information is shared at Vanderbilt.”

So far, about 250 individual scientists and more than 40 research groups are using Labnodes to exchange information, post data and publications, and share resources in a secure and efficient manner.

The number of users will increase rapidly as word spreads about what it is and how it can be used, predicted Magnuson, the Louise B. McGavock Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Medicine, and Cell & Developmental Biology.

“It’s a very powerful and flexible system,” he said. “Not only that, it’s free.”

As a joint project between the Office of Research and the Center for Stem Cell Biology, the development of Labnodes was launched in response to the refreshing of Vanderbilt’s Basic Science Strategic Plan in 2008.

The vision for Labnodes was to “connect the dots” between people, communities, resources and publications, and to provide this information to users via intuitive dashboard-type views. “Vanderbilt investigators wanted a database that functions like Facebook but serves scientists,” Magnuson said. “We’ve built it with that in mind.”

Development of the system was led by Jean-Philippe (J-P) Cartailler, Ph.D., director of Informatics for the Center for Stem Cell Biology, with assistance from Gregory Baboolal, B.Sc., and Jill Lindner, M.Ed., the center’s application support analyst.

Lindner is leading a series of workshops at 10 a.m. the last Thursday of each month in 512 Light Hall to train users in various aspects of the Labnodes system.

The first workshop was held March 28. The next one, on April 25, will cover setting up labs, cores and work groups for collaboration. “How to” training videos are also available on the Labnodes website.

For more information about Labnodes, contact Lindner at

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