Open Science Prize finalists include Open Air Quality and Real-time Pathogen Surveillance. 

The six finalists for the Open Science Prize were announced today.  The Open Science Prize is

“The Open Science Prize is a collaboration between the Wellcome Trust, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to unleash the power of open content and data to advance biomedical research and its application for health benefit.”

Two of them are directly relevant to studies of microbiology of the built environment and I thought I would point people to them here.

The first is OpenAQ: A Global Community Building The First Open, Real-Time Air Quality Data Hub for the World | Open Science Prize


Below is the description from the Open Science Prize site:

Providing real-time information on poor air quality by combining data from across the globe

Poor air quality is responsible for one out of eight deaths across the world. Accessible and timely air quality data is critical to advancing the scientific fight against air pollution and is essential for health research. OpenAQ aims to provide more timely information on poor air quality by combining the world’s publicly available, official real-time data onto one open-source and open data platform.

Open Science Prize profile and project updates

And the second is Real-time evolutionary tracking for pathogen surveillance and epidemiological investigation | Open Science Prize

Below is the description:

Permitting analysis of emerging epidemics such as Ebola, MERS-CoV and Zika

The goal of this project is to promote open sharing of viral genomic data and harness this data to make epidemiologically actionable inferences. The team will develop an integrated framework for real-time molecular epidemiology and evolutionary analysis of emerging epidemics, such as Ebola virus, MERS-CoV and Zika virus. The project will use an online visualization platform where the outputs of statistical analyses can be used by public health officials for epidemiological insights within days of samples being taken from patients.

Open Science Prize profile and project updates

Now neither is directly about microbiology of the built environment but I can see many ways where both are directly relevant.  Outdoor air quality of course has impact on both indoor air quality and on microbiology source pools for the built environment.  And the tools from the OpenAQ project could be used in many ways for collaborative indoor air quality monitoring and studies.  And though Ebola, MERS-CoV and Zika are not big worries in the built environment per se, again the tools from this project could be used for many surveys of dangerous bugs in the built environment too.

It is inspiring to see so many people working on novel open science tools and to also see large agencies starting to build better recognition and reward systems for such project.

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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.