WASHINGTON – VIVO, a Web application designed to enable better national networking between scientists from different disciplines and locations, has just received a commitment to be used by the first federal organization in the United States – the US Department of Agriculture.

Specifically, USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service and Forest Service will be the first five USDA agencies to participate in VIVO. The National Agricultural Library, which is part of ARS, will host the Web application.

"Addressing the critically important agricultural issues facing the world today requires an interdisciplinary approach between scientists across the US and around the world," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "VIVO will be an excellent way to make research more effective and help researchers forge important new collaborations that can lead to the kind of ground breaking results that we need to help solve the problems we face today."

According to USDA, VIVO provides a powerful Web-search tool for connecting researchers, funding institutions, students, administrators and others with an interest in research. The idea is to link researchers with peers and potential collaborators. This efficient networking tool will enable scientists to more easily locate others with particular expertise or specialized research that may contribute to the success of a project.

VIVO also will make it possible to quickly identify scientific expertise to address an emerging pest or disease, or to rapidly mobilize response on a scientific issue, the agency added.

VIVO is funded by a $12.2 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health, to the University of Florida and collaborators at Cornell University, Indiana University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Washington University in St. Louis, the Scripps Research Institute and the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico. The grant was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Based on open source software developed by Cornell University, VIVO's underlying database automatically draws information about scientists from official, verifiable sources and then makes it uniformly available to be searched.

For example, information about researchers' positions comes from their employers, and a listing of their published articles comes from the journals. Search results of all publicly known information about a specific topic or researchers in participating institutions are then presented in one Web page.

Other USDA agencies will be encouraged to become part of VIVO, helping expand the project to as many institutions as possible so it becomes a national and worldwide network. The USDA VIVO will be a "one-stop shop" for federal agriculture expertise and research results, the agency concluded.