Category Archives: Features

Epernicus Launches Private Social Networking Solutions for Companies

We are excited to tell you about a new development at Epernicus – the creation of internal social networking platforms for pharma companies and non-profit research institutes. This new venture was inspired by companies who liked what they saw on our public site and realized they needed a community like Epernicus inside their institution.

Many companies and research institutes have thousands of researchers spread across multiple locations. As you might imagine, enabling effective communication and collaboration among researchers and between internal business units can be challenging. Social networking platforms can facilitate these interactions by enabling people to easily locate, learn about, and contact each other. They can also accelerate serendipitous interactions which, in turn, can speed up the path to discovery and development.

The private internal versions of Epernicus are highly tailored to fit the specific culture and needs of institutions ranging from non-profit research organizations to pharmaceutical companies to medical device companies. Our platforms can also be molded for companies outside the traditional biomedical research space.

You can learn more about Epernicus Solutions and see a brief slide show at http://solutions.epernicus.com/. Please contact us at http://solutions.epernicus.com/contact.php with questions or comments.

posted by Vivek Murthy, Chairman

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Searching BenchQs

One of the features we’ve most often been asked about via the Epernicus feedback form is the capability to search BenchQ threads.  While this functionality was not prioritized for early releases of Epernicus, we quietly introduced this feature last month.  We’re now indexing all BenchQ questions (and corresponding replies), and return results only for those questions which you are permitted to view.

Click here to try a BenchQ search for “PCR” and learn from the collective knowledge on Epernicus.

Thanks for your continued feedback, and for helping us to make a better Epernicus.

posted by Ezra Freedman, CTO

New BenchQ features

We recently launched some new BenchQ features we hope will make your experience using BenchQ more productive and enjoyable.  The genesis of these features is user feedback — please keep the comments and suggestions coming!

Flagging
You are now able to flag BenchQ threads.  Flagging a BenchQ thread will ensure it stays in your list of BenchQ’s, and will make it visually distinctive in the list (a red flag icon will appear next to the subject).  You will also have the option of having replies to that BenchQ thread emailed to you (this feature can be turned on or off via the “Email Preferences” pane) and of displaying only flagged BenchQ’s (by selecting the “Flagged” option in the new “Show” filter).

Marking multiple BenchQ threads as read
You are now able to mark multiple BenchQ threads as read.  Select the checkbox next to the BenchQ threads you’d like to mark, and then click the green “Mark selected as read” icon.  (This, combined with the “Select All” option, allows you to reset your unread BenchQ count)

General interface improvements
The BenchQ interface has been enlarged a bit and you can now scroll through the list of BenchQ’s even while the detail pane is open (previously you needed to close the detail pane to scroll through the list).

Get your custom public profile web address

When we first launched public profiles on Epernicus, we looked to implement a simple and egalitarian system for deciding on a user’s public profile web address.  I thought back to my first university network account username — your initials followed by a number!  Simple, right?  Limited typing!  Fair!

Well, the feedback has been clear…  While some of you appreciate the simplicity of the current scheme, others want some freedom of expression. In response, we’ve added the option of specifying a custom public profile web address.  This will work *in addition to* your originally assigned address, so no need to update old references.

Visit http://www.epernicus.com/account/public_profile to reserve your first pick today!

Oh, and my new profile address — http://www.epernicus.com/people/ezrafreedman

Locating expertise in your scientific network

When we’re not doing experiments at our bench or practicing in the clinic, we’re often looking for information: What’s the latest with adult stem cells? How do you identify phosphoproteins on a gel? What polymers swell when heated? To find answers, we often have to spend hours searching resources like Pubmed or Google. Occasionally, we get lucky and remember that someone we know has relevant expertise. Getting help from a colleague is often the fastest way to answer our question or solve our problem.

But why should finding a person who can help us be a matter of luck? We all have rich networks of scientific expertise comprising our current and former labmates and people in our departments and institutions. The average scientist’s network contains hundreds of years of research experience; and chances are that someone in your network has exactly the knowledge you need.

We built Epernicus to help you locate the right person in your network with the right expertise at the right time. And with our new and improved search, you can do so more easily than ever.

For example, if you’re looking for someone who could help you troubleshoot a DNA ligation, search for “DNA ligation” on Epernicus. We will show you everyone in your network (and in general) who lists ligations as an asset, has it mentioned in their publication abstracts or otherwise contains it in their profile. You can see how you’re connected and quickly and easily contact the right person. Because you’re part of the same lab, department or institution, they’ll be happy to help you out.

The Epernicus community was launched only recently, but you’d be surprised at the amount of knowledge it already contains. Try searching it next time you’re looking for help!

By the way: Your ability to find expertise in your network will grow as more of your colleagues join Epernicus. Invite them!

Why we added Clinical Training

Last week, we added a new section to our profiles for clinical training.  A number of Epernicus members are physician scientists, and we wanted their residency and fellowship training to be included on their profiles.  (Take a look at my profile and you’ll see I have included my residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital). 

Including clinical training also creates a valuable and much-needed network for residency and fellowship alumni.  Though many physicians feel a special kinship with others who trained at their institution, it’s not easy to stay connected to these colleagues.  I can recall a number of times in the last few years when it would have been really helpful to search through the Brigham and Women’s medicine alumni network to find people with specific research or clinical interests.  But there was no way for me to do this.  The new Epernicus clinical training alumni networks will help physician scientists preserve their connections and access to this valuable group of colleagues. 

Public Profiles

For years, we’ve heard from scientists that they don’t have their own web page or a way to be known on their own terms.  Some institutions provide researchers with a web page or with space for a short description on a department or lab page.  This is a start.  But in addition to rarely capturing all the information that’s relevant to a scientist’s persona, institutional pages are often challenging to customize or update with any real frequency.  More often than not, they are out of date.

The truth is, whether you’ve got a fancy web page or not, people will still look you up on Google.  Everyone from colleagues to recruiters to the scientist you just met at a conference will rely on the results of web searches to form their impression of you.  And as you may have already found out the hard way, your name can show up in some pretty surprising places on the web (some of which may make you cringe!).

We decided to do something about this by creating public profiles on Epernicus.  A public profile is a limited version of your Epernicus profile that can be viewed by the outside world if you choose.  Public profiles have their own web address (URL) which means that every member now has a professional website under his or her control.  For example, mine is http://www.epernicus.com/vhm.  You can preview your public profile and turn it on next time you log into Epernicus.  A number of you have already done this and are now posting your web address to personal web sites, blogs, Facebook, and more.  In the near future, we’ll make sure that profiles are indexed so people will find your activated public profile when they enter your name in Google or Yahoo!.

A special shout out goes to our Community Builders who gave us valuable feedback on the public profile before it was launched.  If you’ve got ideas on how to make Epernicus more useful for you or your community, we want to hear from you!