For more than 70 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has provided grants to help support the cancer-related research of thousands of individual scientists and health care professionals. Now, the ACS has expanded its support for these cancer experts in a 21st century format—social media. This new platform allows for more immediate collaboration, which could speed research to help more people affected by cancer sooner.
Bringing ACS-funded scientists together via social media. TheoryLab® is an online community exclusively for scientists and clinical professionals who have a current or previous relationship with ACS. Members may have been or currently are a grant recipient, mentor to a grantee, peer reviewer, staff researcher, or adviser.
“Many researchers get their first major grant from the ACS,” says William Phelps, PhD. “In fact, about 70% of today’s directors at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers around the country were funded at some point by ACS.” Phelps is the Senior Vice President of the Extramural Research Group at ACS, the team responsible for distributing research and training grants.
“Many of the scientists we’ve supported with grants have continued to make pivotal contributions to cancer research,” he says. “We want them to be able to pick each other’s brains and lower the barriers to collaboration.”
Inspiring creativity and innovation. The goal of TheoryLab,® Phelps says, is to provide a place for top scientists to share ideas, join discussions, and ask questions.
“We developed TheoryLab® as our own innovative platform to combine Facebook’s functionality with LinkedIn’s networking,” says Tori Vogt, the TheoryLab® Community Manager. “In just the first few months after our launch in August, we already have 600 members interacting on the site.”
Members have a wide range of disciplines and levels of experience. “Our hope is to inspire transdisciplinary collaborations to define and investigate the most exciting opportunities in cancer research,” Phelps says. “We’re also hoping that TheoryLab® will naturally lead to senior-level scientists mentoring promising new investigators.”
“We believe that having more great minds working together will lead to innovative, creative, and high-impact projects to accelerate our progress toward a world without cancer,” Phelps says.
What’s Next? In 2019, the ACS Extramural Grants Group will announce a new pilot grant program to support collaborations generated via TheoryLab.®