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IU, partners lead $3.25M grant to improve data-sharing in Africa, North America and Europe

Medical and agricultural researchers in Africa, N. America and Europe among many to reap benefits of improved networks

(This article originally appeared in the IU Newsroom: http://go.iu.edu/1mUH)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Countless research projects -- including the treatment of HIV-positive patients and solving the problem of parasitic weeds infecting African agriculture -- will benefit from a new networking grant awarded to Indiana University and partners.

International Networks at IU will co-lead the four-year, $3.25 million Networks for European, American and African Research, or NEAAR, grant funded through the U.S. National Science Foundation’s International Research Network Connections program. Jennifer Schopf, director of International Networks at IU, is principal investigator on the award.

This powerful project will provide services and bandwidth connecting researchers in the U.S. with their counterparts in Europe and Africa. In the process, it will support the majority of the NSF-funded research sharing between Africa and the U.S.

GÉANT, which provides support to the European research and education network, is IU's co-lead on the grant. Both will work with the following African regional research and education networks to foster collaboration and speedier science:

  • UbuntuNet Alliance
  • Arab States Research and Education Network
  • West and Central African Research and Education Network
  • South African National Research Network
  • Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa

IU will coordinate domestically with Internet2 and the Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet. Thanks to these regional partnerships, NEAAR has the potential to reach research and education communities in more than 80 countries across three continents.

NEAAR will be transformational to NSF-funded science, providing the network and the human expertise to make the most of international collaborations and data sharing.

"With her third major international networking grant, Dr. Schopf continues IU's almost 20 years of leading development and operations of the international research networks to Asia, Europe and now Africa. These federal grants are highly competitive, and her leadership with great partners across the world like GÉANT and IU’s renowned Global Research Network Operations Center will again advance the nation, science and the world," said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and professor of information systems in the IU Kelley School of Business.

IU, GÉANT and their partners have a well-known history of successful networking partnerships in the NSF-fundedAmerica Connects to Europe and TransPAC projects. Schopf is the principal investigator on those projects as well as the NetSage award, which enables unprecedented network measurement and analysis.

"I am delighted to help lead another win for IU's international efforts with our many collaborative partners in Europe and Africa," Schopf said. "We're thrilled to be able to expand our reach and to work with a new community to advance science and collaboration worldwide. IU has an amazing team, and they worked extremely hard to win this award."

"Indiana University and GÉANT have the same vision," said Cathrin Stöver, GÉANT’s interim chief collaboration officer. "Having collaborated to provide shared trans-Atlantic connectivity for the benefit of the American and European science communities, we are now taking global networking to the next level. NEAAR will expand possibilities for the three continents and our planet -- showing that by working together, we are far stronger."

Dr. Jonathan Dick, chief medical information officer for the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare, or AMPATH, is excited about the collaborations the NEAAR grant will support. AMPATH is a partnership between IU, Moi University in Kenya and a consortium of North American universities. The group now treats over 80,000 HIV-positive people across western Kenya and is scaling up services to support primary care and treatment for chronic disease and cancer. In the past year, AMPATH launched a real-time cloud-based electronic medical record at 21 remote clinics.

Dick said that the networking support offered by the NEAAR collaboration will be crucial to improving the lives of thousands of Kenyans. "We are extremely excited about the opportunity to collaborate with IU and to explore how we can leverage connectivity for our health information system to directly improve the care for thousands of Kenyans," he said.

About International Networks at IU

International Networks at IU leads several projects related to large-scale international research networks that link scientists around the world. These include the NSF-funded America Connects to Europe network; TransPAC4, which connects the U.S. to Asia; and NetSage, which enables active and passive monitoring of international networks.

About GÉANT

GÉANT is the pan-European network that delivers a high-performance connectivity and advanced services to more than 50 million research and education users across 40 European countries. GÉANT interconnects European national research and education networks with a high-bandwidth and highly resilient backbone and links them to over 100 countries worldwide. GÉANT (at the time known as DANTE) collaborated with Indiana University on the ACE project, the precursor to NEAAR, and provided shared trans-Atlantic R&E capacity to support science and engineering research between the U.S. and European communities.