The main goals of the Collaborative Tools Support Network (CTSN) is to 1) provide the collaborative link needed between the BIRN Coordinating Center (BIRN CC) which supplies the BIRN infrastructure and the research community using the tools developed by the current BIRN testbeds and 2) provide outreach to scientific communities (including domains other than neuroimaging) and to provide those communities with assistance in adopting the BIRN resources. The CTSN brings together the Principal investigators, Project Managers and key personnel of each of the BIRN testbeds go off-line. This model will allow the testbed institutional memory and knowledge base to remain intact and be available to the larger community, while allowing the resources to be used in flexible manner as new collaborative projects emerge in fields no covered by the currents testbeds. Our experience has shown that groups seeking BIRN technology and assistance require broad range of time investment on the part of the CTSN. Therefore, we have chosen a model that responds to these needs. The CTSN will provide expert assistant for projects ranging from short term (e.g., help with tool Installation) to the long term (e.g., CTSC's that seek integrate BIRN technology into their existing environment). In addition, the CTSN will provide vigorous outreach to the scientific community. NIH rules now require data sharing plans for grants with costs over $500,000. The CTSN will help BIRN position itself as a data-sharing resource for the NIH community. CTSN members have deep experience In the many steps to data sharing, from writing data-sharing applications to local Institutional Review Boards, to the modification of database schemas as data from new domains are added, to the deidentificatlon of data. The deep experience that CTSN members also have in developing tools to interoperate with the BIRN infrastructure will also be crucial as members of the outside community bring their tools into the BIRN toolset.
The Collaborative Tools Support Network will provide support for current users of the tools developed by the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN) and work to broaden their use into domains outside of the current user base.