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Knowledge sharing to beat cancer

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Bringing cancer researchers and physicians together is the goal of a new extranet built by the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, various Boston hospitals and vendor Open Text.

The new Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center is a collaborative effort which lets scientists and physicians across Boston share research documents, participate in online workgroup discussions and maximize lab resources.

Teaming up for collaborative cancer-busting are Dana-Farber, the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, Mass General, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Time and schedule constraints make face-to-face meetings and information-sharing nearly impossible, according to Steven Singer, Dana Farber's Chief of Communications. "We are currently experiencing a time of great change in healthcare and we must look for collaborations to maximize our resources," he said.

The Cancer Center extranet, built on Open Text's Livelink environment, lets researchers collaborate with each other at their convenience regardless of time of day. Some benefits include better use of existing lab facilities and resources, fewer delays and a renewed focus on hospital workers' research energies.

"By enabling knowledge sharing both internally and between different medical institutions, [the Cancer Center] is facilitating a new model of cancer research that will help focus and coordinate our efforts," said Singer.

Open Text VP of Product Marketing Dan Latendre agreed, citing several goals including one rarely hoped for in any technology installation: "overcome cost and time restraints, accelerate the pace of innovation and hopefully, contribute to a breakthrough in cancer research.

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