OpenFiction [Blog]

Health Sciences Online goes live

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on December 17, 2008

Health Sciences Online, project I’ve been on the advisory board for, has gone live this morning.  It’s a really impressive and searchable index of open health information, but the press release describes it better:

For Immediate Release
Erica Frank, MD, MPH
Founder and Executive Director of Health Sciences Online
Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia      TEL: 310-210-4252


This week marks the launch of Health Sciences Online ( the only site where anyone can search for and find more than 50,000 courses, references, guidelines, and other expert-reviewed, high-quality, current, cost-free, and ad-free health sciences resources.

Free and accessible to anyone, the up-to-date, authoritative information is aimed primarily at health care practitioners and public health providers, enabling their training, continuing education, and delivery of effective treatments to patients.  The information is delivered by powerful search technology from Vivisimo, Inc., which allows users to easily see comprehensive search results and quickly find the answers they need with an intuitively navigated graphic interface.  Through integration with Google Translator, users can search and read materials in 22 languages.

Former CDC Director Dr. Jeff Koplan calls Health Sciences Online (HSO) “a visionary undertaking” and the World Bank heralds it as “globally democratizing health science knowledge.”  HSO is expected by the World Health Organization (WHO) “to make a considerable contribution to the advancement of e-learning worldwide.”

HSO is a portal that includes more than 50,000 world-class health-sciences resources, selected by our knowledgeable staff from already-existing, reliable, professional sources and resource collections.  These include medical specialty societies, accredited continuing education organizations, governments, and universities such as Cambridge, Columbia, Harvard, Hopkins, McGill, MIT, Penn, Stanford, and Yale.  Founding collaborators for this site include CDC, World Bank, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the University of British Columbia, and financial support has come from WHO, the NATO Science for Peace Program, the Canadian government, the Annenberg Physician Training Program, and many volunteers.

Background:  Health sciences information and training are vital for health and socioeconomic development, but excellent, free learning resources are difficult to find.  In recent years, information and communication technologies, particularly the Internet, have been central to remedying this situation.  But there are still significant hurdles to accessing online content.  WHO notes that there is an enormous need to identify selective, current, accessible online educational and training resources to promote appropriate care and policies.

Project details:  A portal to a virtual learning center with browse and search functions, providing free, online linkages to a comprehensive collection of top-quality courses and references in medicine, public health, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, basic sciences, and other health sciences disciplines.  These materials are donated, and typically hosted and maintained by our distinguished content partners, so materials are constantly updated.

Advisory Committee: Our Advisory Committee includes both distinguished visionaries in health sciences, and experienced practitioners in online health sciences education:

•    Chris Candler, MD; Co-Director/Editor, MedEdPORTAL; Association of American Medical Colleges
•    Stephen Carson, MFA; External Relations Director, MIT OpenCourseWare
•    Jim Curran, MD, MPH; Dean, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
•    Joan Dzenowagis, PhD; Project Manager, Health InterNetwork, WHO
•    Erica Frank, MD, MPH; HSO Founder/Executive Director, Advisory Committee Chair
•    Sukon Kanchanaraksa, PhD; Director, Teaching and Learning with Technology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
•    Steven Kanter, MD; Vice Dean, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
•    Jerome P. Kassirer, MD; Distinguished Professor, Tufts Univ. SoM, Former Editor-in-Chief, New England Journal of Medicine
•    Jeff Koplan, MD, MPH; Former Director, CDC, EVP for Health Affairs, Emory University
•    Edward Maibach, MPH, PhD; Professor, Social Marketing, George Mason University
•    Anne Margulies, BS; Executive Director, Open Course Ware, MIT
•    J.B. McGee, MD; Assistant Dean for Medical Education Technology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
•    Pat Moholt, EdD; Executive Director, Global Health Care Learning, International and Corporate Health, NewYork-Presbyterian
•    Hugh Tilson, MD, DrPH Clinical Professor of Epidemiology/Health Policy, Senior Advisor to the Dean, UNC SPH

“HSO is an incredible resource for health professionals all over the world.  Open access to health information should literally save millions of lives and lead to important new discoveries,” said Anne Margulies, Advisory Committee member and Executive Director of Open Course Ware at MIT.

HSO has succeeded where other initiatives have not, because our vision of a democratization of health sciences knowledge has tremendous appeal to a wide variety of supporters.  This ranges from an endocrinologist who donated $50,000 because “HSO will change the world”, to an Armenian specialist in preventive medicine who volunteered >1,000 hours because “HSO will finally make top-quality information available to all the world’s doctors”, to Senator Sam Nunn’s Global Health and Security Initiative stating that “HSO has abundant high quality resources, so it’s not like putting in keywords in a normal search engine – this will create revolutions in health education, disease surveillance, and telemedicine.”

HSO’s next phase will be developing programs using the gathered materials to help train and educate public and clinical health providers around the world.
For more information, access the Health Sciences Online site at, and dive right in and try a search!

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