The three award recipients for the Accelerating Science Award Program (ASAP) were announced today in Washington, DC at the Open Access Week kickoff event hosted by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the World Bank. ASAP recognizes the use of scientific research, published through Open Access, that has led to innovations benefiting society. Major sponsors include the Wellcome Trust, PLOS and Google.
The award recipients, along with the challenges they address and their innovative approaches, include:
Global Collaboration to Fight Malaria (Matthew Todd, PhD):
At least one child dies of malaria every minute of every day, mainly in Africa and Asia. According to Matthew Todd, who leads the Open Source Malaria Consortium, given minimal financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop new treatments and a high degree of suffering among the affected communities, a large-scale and open collaborative research model provides a solution. Todd turned publicly available data into a global effort to help identify new anti-malaria drugs. He did this by creating an open source collaboration involving scientists, college students and others from around the world. They use open online laboratory notebooks in which their experimental data is posted each day, enabling instant sharing and the ability to build on others' findings in almost real time. "This recognition may help enlist more people into the collaborative effort to fight malaria," said Dr. Matthew Todd. "If we succeed with these efforts, the approach could be extended to fighting other diseases - such as cancer."
HIV Self-Test App Empowers Patients (Nitika Pant Pai, MD, MPH, PhD, Caroline Vadnais, Roni Deli-Houssein and Sushmita Shivkumar):
To increase awareness, knowledge and access to a convenient HIV screening option, and to expedite connections to treatment in nations hardest hit by the disease, Dr. Nitika Pant Pai and medical staff at McGill University and McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, developed a smartphone application as part of a self-testing strategy that synergized the Internet, an oral fluid-based self-test and a smartphone. This integrated approach included HIV education, an online test to determine HIV risk level, instructions to self-testing and interpreting the results, and confidential linkages and resources for referrals to trained counselors. The personalized smartphone application, developed on the basis of original research published in multiple Open Access journals, helps circumvent the social visibility associated with HIV testing in a healthcare facility. The application could alleviate fears of stigma and discrimination and make HIV detection simple, non-judgmental and confidential while empowering individuals with distilled scientific knowledge.
"Being an award recipient will help shine light on the fact that open access acts like a catalyst - by allowing unrestricted knowledge sharing - it exponentiates the power of knowledge to transform and impact lives beyond borders, boundaries, languages, and regions; facilitates creation of novel innovations, improved practices and policies," said Dr. Nitika Pant Pai. "With our synergistic innovation (application), we created a patient desired non-judgmental, private option that empowers proactive individuals to self-educate, stage, and seek linkages for HIV."