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Eagle-I Integration – Connecting FHCRC Shared Resources to the National Directory of Cores

This Medical Library Pilot Project Award summary was submitted by Ann Marie Clark, Director, Arnold Library with Beth Levine & David Tolmie, Systems Librarians; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s (FHCRC) Shared Resources core facilities support biomedical research by providing services and expertise that permit more rapid translation of laboratory studies into clinical applications, improve the feasibility and efficiency of clinical trials, and serve as focal points for access to technology.  These facilities give investigators, both on and off campus, opportunities to augment their research with resources that would not otherwise be possible, convenient or cost effective in each individual laboratory.

Eagle-I is a national research resource discovery platform that helps biomedical scientists search for and find previously invisible, but highly valuable, resources.  Hosted by Harvard University and under the direction of Dr. Lee Nadler, the eagle-i Consortium has been supported by a two-year, $15 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) award (#U24 RR 029825) from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Arnold Library is a member of the Shared Resources group at FHCRC, and as an extension of our duty to make scientific information accessible to our research community; we are responsible for the construction, architecture, design and maintenance of the Shared Resources website.  Scientists in the SR core labs provide content, guidance and requirements, and library staff members write, edit, photograph and create video and other imagery to promote access to our core labs and provide training to the research community.

In 2010, Arnold Library staff was tasked with two big assignments: build a new SR website with a very modest budget, and join the eagle-i network.  We quickly realized a few key things.  First, we’d need to use an open source content management system (CMS).  Secondly, we knew that the only way to manage the cost and efforts involved in maintaining content in both the SR website and eagle-i would be to connect the two in an automated workflow.

When we initially approached the eagle-i team at Harvard, they were engaged in both the initial build out of the platform and working under a pilot award that limited participation.  So, we all agreed that when the eagle-I network moved out of the pilot phase, and opened to new membership, FHCRC Shared Resources would join.  In the meantime we selected Drupal as our CMS and built the new SR website, using structured data types with the intent of leveraging that architecture for future eagle-I integration.

Flash forward to 2012 – the SR website is an award-winning, highly populated resource, eagle-i’s pilot phase is complete, and the network is open to new members.  Library staff, in discussion with the eagle-I team at Harvard, began to explore the best method to develop a system which would seamlessly propagate descriptions and metadata from our Drupal CMS to the central eagle-I node.  It became immediately clear that custom development by Drupal experts would be needed to create a module to translate and process the data.

As is so common, funding was scarce, so when the NN/LM PNR announced a new round of open pilot project awards, we hurried to apply, and thankfully received support.  The NN/LM sub-award allowed us to contract with Freelock, a Seattle-based development firm specializing in Drupal web solutions.

Working together, Arnold Library staff, members of the eagle-i team, and developers at Freelock created the new Drupal module.  It was designed to reside within the existing SR website, copying the site’s content to our local eagle-I node which would then hand the data along to eagle-i Central for inclusion in the master directory.  We need only create or edit content in one location (our Drupal site) and once published, key elements of that same material are instantly pushed across to the eagle-i network.

As of June 2013, the new Drupal module for eagle-i integration is complete, tested and connected to the FHCRC local installation of eagle-i.  Communication between FHCRC’s local eagle-i instance and eagle-i Central is operational – automatically posting and updating content to Central.

All the involved parties (FHCRC, Harvard, the NN/LM and Freelock) agreed that another appropriate outcome of the project would be open source sharing of the Drupal module code into the Drupal.org community site.  Thanks to the efforts of the team at Freelock, that code is now freely available.  Our hope is that this module is useful to other Core Labs and Shared Resources groups, and we encourage our colleagues to take advantage of either this, or eagle-i’s existing framework to join the network.

We would like to extend our particular gratitude to Drs. Lee Nadler and Daniela Bourges, Julie McMurry, Doug McFadden, Marc Ciriello and Sophia Cheng at Harvard for their vision and efforts in making this possible.  In Seattle, we are grateful to the disciplined and creative team at Freelock, including John Locke, Peter McKinnon, Timon Davis, and Aaron Lamb.  Special thanks to Vice Presidents for Shared Resources, Janell Baldwin and Dr. Paul Woloshin for inspiring and sponsoring the project. Finally, we greatly appreciate the NN/LM PNR’s support in extending access to biomedical resources by funding this project.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under Contract No. HHS-N-276-2011-00008-C with the University of Washington.

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