UCSF Profiles 2.1 Brings A New Look, Enhanced Performance to Popular Research Networking Tool

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Since its launch in 2010, UCSF Profiles has become an increasingly prominent research networking tool on campus and a gateway into UC San Francisco worldwide. The site currently receives 80,000+ visits a month (triple the the traffic from two years ago) with 63,000 unique monthly visitors, and features information on 6,300+ UCSF experts and their 110,000+ publications.

UCSF Profiles is built on an open source product, the Profiles Research Networking Software (RNS), developed by Harvard Catalyst (Harvard’s institute funded by the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards grant). UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) was Catalyst’s first partner in deploying Profiles outside of Harvard, and has since customized and built upon it, extending it from a standalone web application into a software platform, which now allows developers to add their own content to Profiles in much the same way that developers write Facebook apps.

It’s opened the door for people worldwide to learn about and connect to researchers at UCSF.
Leslie Yuan, MPH, director of CTSI's Virtual Home program

By mixing together OpenSocial (a web application standard pioneered by Google) with the VIVO ontology (a data representation standard recommended for biomedical researchers by the NIH), CTSI’s Virtual Home team created Open Research Networking Gadgets, or ORNG. The ORNG standard is designed not only to enhance our particular research networking system, but also to improve research networking systems at biomedical campuses nationwide. As the founder of ORNG, CTSI has launched an open source “app store” containing “gadgets” that enhance an individual’s UCSF Profiles page, and can be used by other institutions for free.

CTSI’s Virtual Home team has just recently released the ORNG improvements to the Profiles 2.1 code update, including:

  • Add-ons ("gadgets") have a cleaner look, blending into UCSF Profile pages with the other content. 12 add-ons are available in the ORNG gadget library to date! (ex., Featured Videos, News, etc.)
  • On the ‘Edit’ page, add-ons have the same user interface (UI) detail as the other features.
  • You can now search for profiles with specific add-ons in the ‘More Options’ section of the homepage search.


  • Profiles page owners can now set security/privacy levels for add-ons as they do other content sections.
  • The new ‘Featured Publications’ add-on allows a Profile owner select publications and highlight them in a separate section on their profiles page. It does not replace the full publication list, but allows owners to call attention to specific publications.


'Featured Publications' add-on

UI improvements like photo thumbnails appearing in various people lists
In addition, Profiles 2.1 contains several user interface improvements such as photo thumbnails appearing in various people lists (Co-authors, Related Authors, Same department). Additional technical updates:
  • Open Research Networking Gadgets (ORNG add-ons) are now integrated into the resource description framework (RDF) and produce Linked Open Data.
  • ORNG data is now available for department use through the JSON-LD application programming interface (API), version 2. Please see opendata.profiles.ucsf.edu for more information on using UCSF Profiles data.
  • Search Engine Optimizations



Here’s what Leslie Yuan, director of CTSI’s Virtual Home program had to say about the Profiles 2.1 release:

"UCSF Profiles is not only a powerful research networking tool and resource for finding and connecting with experts on campus – it’s opened the door for people worldwide to learn about and connect to researchers at UCSF. UCSF Profiles 2.1 was the natural next step after two years of design improvements and increasing functionality, resulting in what we hope is a more user-friendly, enhanced version of this research networking tool. UCSF is excited to contribute Profiles 2.1 as the latest version of the Profiles Research Networking Software to the developer community and this update is part of our commitment to open source research collaboration tools.”

The VH team continues to extend the functionality of the Profiles product through ORNG gadgets available to other institutions using Profiles or VIVO open source software.

See CTSI Director of Clinical and Translational Science Training (CTSI) Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo’s profile page as an example page that utilizes many of the latest add-ons and features.

 For more information, contact [email protected].

Fore more information, see the Profiles RNS Release Notes

Profiles RNS 2.1 on Github

UCSF's CTSI is a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards network funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (grant Number UL1 TR000004) at the National Institutes of Health. Under the banner of "Accelerating Research to Improve Health," CTSI provides a wide range of resources and services for researchers, and promotes online collaboration and networking tools such as UCSF Profiles.