The Synaptic Leap

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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site

The Synaptic Leap: Open Source Biomedical Research




The Synaptic Leap founded by Ginger Taylor in November 2005, is involved with enlarging the scientific community’s ability to share and discuss their experiments. The scientific community utilizing the Synaptic Leap posts experimental designs and data to be interpreted by the global scientific community. Ginger Taylor states:” the physical and psychological barriers that divide scientific communities are ultimately artificial and counterproductive. We see online collaboration as a natural way to bridge these gaps and pool information that is currently too fragmented for anyone to use. An open, collaborative research community will find new ways to do science, answering questions that current institutions find difficult or impossible. The Synaptic Leap’s mission is to empower scientists to make the dream a reality”. [1] The discussions would further solicit formulation of new ideas that eventually would lead to the development of drugs for diseases prevalent within developing countries. This project focuses on diseases that afflict poor nations (neglected diseases) presently it is focused on tropical diseases such as malaria, schistosomiasis, toxoplasma, and tuberculosis because profit cannot be made by the pharmaceuticals from developing cures for these diseases.

Open-Source Spying vs. Open Source Biomedical Research

The origins of the two ideas are sprung from the thought that with an increase of involvement of a larger community the efficiency and prevention would increase drastically. In the intelligence agency community it would increase the prevention of the possibility of terrorist attacks and in the biomedical community it would prevent diseases from collaboration of scientists working on prevention methods. The main goal is the same, with the possibility of expert discussions from different backgrounds, with different information and insight, the world would benefit from rapid developments.

The Synaptic Leap however has less skepticism than the Intellepidia. The Biomedical community is less fearful about sharing information than the intelligence community because the intelligence agencies must attempt to hide secrets from larger non-agent community and any leaks could jeopardize their research. [2] This does not occur within the scientific community because research is a shared phenomenon that benefits from others observations and input. Moreover, the diseases that information is shared for are neglected disease that would not produce profit and therefore there is no profit incentive to keep things secret. Furthermore, it is more difficult to train the intelligent agents because each one leaves the Intellepidia community while waiting for a new employee to become familiar with the program. [3] On the other hand, the Synaptic Leap community is only growing; every month about one new scientist joins the website. [4]


The scientific world is based on publishing the result in journals, however after publishing online, would the data and results would be sufficient to be published since it was already published on the web? Therefore, this would diminish scientists’ probabilities of having their work published. Furthermore, it raises the challenge of receiving grants for the research because agencies may not support projects that post their results in an open source format. Moreover, it would be less likely possible for scientists to receive acknowledgment for their discoveries.

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