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Advice for an Open Source Development Grant? 149

IgD asks: "My colleagues and I are developing an open source medical records system. A senior supervisor approached us and let us know a third party is offering a decent amount of money in the form of a grant for any legitimate medical research project. We were all but promised the money if we could come up with a proposal. Has anyone in the Slashdot community received a grant for open source software development? Are there any good examples of such a grant available? How could one measure the results of open source development for publication?"
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Advice for an Open Source Development Grant?

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  • what's the goal? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @07:55PM (#6916548) Homepage Journal
    Is your goal ge get the job done, or to open source your code, or to get money? Imho they are very different goals.
    • by AresTheImpaler ( 570208 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:32PM (#6916818)
      Is your goal ge get the job done, or to open source your code, or to get money? Imho they are very different goals.

      Come on, they are not very different goals. You can get the job done while having an open source product (and no money). I mean, have you seen the linux kernel? I does get the job done. You could also have the job done and get money while being closed source. You could also have open source and get money, just look at redhat, mysql, etc, etc.. So no, they are nod different goals.

    • Re:what's the goal? (Score:4, Informative)

      by barista ( 587936 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:47PM (#6916911) Homepage
      Imho they are very different goals.

      Not necessarily. They can get the job done and have open source code. That would probably depend on any stipulations for the grant.

      As for the money, I don't know the specifics of their project, but the money could be used to buy computers, equipment, etc. I work for a university based hospital, and have dealt a bit with research proposals, grants, etc. The grants I have dealt with are typically used to pay for things that come up in the course of research, or buys things that the department might not be able to buy on it's own. It might also be used to pay someone's salary, but I'm guessing they're not looking to get rich. As far as who is providing the grant, my guess would be that they want to do a Netscape/Mozilla kind of thing, or they might want make money on installing the systems (service and hardware).

      I wish them luck
    • You are a bit late. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been developing a fully integrated suite of applications to run its entire system of hospitals for years, and since it was done by public employees, it is available for free to anyone. It is written in M (or MUMPS) so you always get the source code. This package, called VISTA (used to be called DHCP) runs every aspect of their hospital system, from counting calories in your breakfast to full reporting to Washington, DC, and includes a true p
  • by donutello ( 88309 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @07:57PM (#6916572) Homepage
    Refer to other medical research proposals. I'm assuming that you're not trying to get this grant on the sole basis of this being open source, right? The open v/s closed source nature of your project should be pretty irrelevant to your research proposal.
    • I work in a philanthropic foundation and spend a lot of time talking to other foundations about technology, and there is lots of interest in funding open source over closed source projects. Funders are interested in the fact that they won't have to fund zillions of identical projects -- it's just too expensive. It looks like this trend will continue.
    • Wrong.

      I've been on grant review boards, and being open source is big positive factor. Grant review boards are often concerned that 1) you aren't duplicating the wheel 2) that the software that you produce won't be orphaned once the grant runs out. There is also the "why aren't you funding this via venture capital" question.
    • "The open v/s closed source nature of your project should be pretty irrelevant to your research proposal."

      Lots of funding agencies have reasons to want to fund open source or free software. Government agencies, NIH Institutes and Offices for example, aren't generally concerned with the software being sold for profit. They're concerned with the software being demonstrably useful in promoting public health and basic medical research. Preferably the kind of demonstrable utility that looks good in the annua
  • A good idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skank ( 106609 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @07:58PM (#6916577) Homepage
    for someone with the time to do so, would be to make a portal with as much info on this subject, and links to sites that may be able to help you get started / funded for such a project. I'm sure the OSS community would appreciate a site with such information. Just a thought...
  • by AlricTheMad ( 463234 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @07:59PM (#6916588)
    Have you checked around Source Forge for similar projects?
    Have you check

    There are lots of projects in progress currently, perhaps you could work with one of those and help them out?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    At one time, fairly recently, we wrote a grant proposal for the Soros foundation, which was running a special program to help "disadvantaged communities and citizens" in the New York City area. Our proposal was considered one the better ones they received, for it was to enable accessibility for the blind. However, they rejected it primarly because this was something that could also be useful to helping blind people outside of NYC as well! I kid you not!
  • by LittleDan ( 669174 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @07:59PM (#6916592)
    There already is an open-source EMR (, but no doctors are using them, because the switchover is just too hard. My dad's a doctor, and he was promiced a free EMR, just pay for the hardware. In fact, it was the FIRST EMR ever made, but he would have to hire extra people to load the rooms of files he had into the computer. It was just too hard.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You have identified some of the problems with some of the EMRs, but the reality is that the two largest health care providers in the US (the Department of Defense and the Vetrans Affairs Administration) have used EMRs for decades for close to 100% of their patient care. In addition there is an exponetial growth in EMR installations in the US, Europe and South/Central America.
    • Uh, the Veterans Administration (VA) is one of the largest Health care organizations in the nation and it has used a TOTALLY ELECTRONIC medical record system for about 6 years now. NO PAPER PATIENT CHARTS at all!- everything from clinic visits, operative notes, and most prescriptions are done electronically.
      Many university hospitals and other large hospitals all have some sort of electronic record system, and many are converting to an all electronic system.

      I am not aware of any that are open source, Mo

  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:01PM (#6916601) Homepage Journal
    My guess would be that writing this grant would be like writing any other grant. The idea is to propose an idea, outline your thesis (in this case, why you are making a case for this software and why open source), talk about the background of this project, why it is important what the implications are if this were to succeed and how you plan on going about completing this project. Outline the costs and give a timeline, clearly state your goals and wrap it up.

    • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:16PM (#6916709) Homepage Journal
      I should also have stated that I believe there is a significant need for medical records management software in the open source community and if you were to perform a little market research on medical records software, you would find the field is a mess of competing programs and standards, and you would not believe how much money is made by businesses that have half assed solutions to the problem. The cost to individual medical practices and hospitals is considerable and many companies do not have any real clue of how to properly implement this code. Things are complicated by numerous proprietary databases and lots of new HIPAA legislation that makes interconnectivity a real nightmare.

      I've often thought that a good open source team of about thirty individuals including a half dozen subject matter experts, a couple good technical writers and half a dozen programmers could kick some serious butt in this market, establish an inter-operative database standard, either run it platform independent, or take advantage of some pretty powerful, yet inexpensive software like Web Objects and dominate the market within two years. Of course this third party you are talking about is probably interested in such a proposal, thus the offer. It's pretty amazing actually how many folks are wading around aimlessly in this market. Big players like GE, Siemens, IBM etc... are without any direction or focus on this problem and the market payoff could be relatively big if you properly market this to select members of government who are absolutely desperate to reduce the cost of medicine.

      • some pretty powerful, yet inexpensive software like Web Objects

        Whoooaaaa there, boy! Whatever, and I do mean whatever you choose as your platform, let it be .NET, Befunge och Commodore 64 BASIC - just don't let it be WebObjects. It is one of the crappiest systems in the business and will only drive you mad and poor.

        Not because the idea as such isn't a good one. The philosophy behind WO is really nice (basically, imitate an application even when developing), after all, it was the NeXt guys that came up wi
        • To save time I will respond to most of your points with the simple reply: "I have actually heard very good things about Web Objects." I have not yet used it myself, but many folks whose opinions I respect have very sucsessfully implemented WO solutions.

          To specifically respond to your point: It doesn't scale. At all.

          I will state simply that the DOD is using Web Objects to manage all of the medical history and data of their employees including Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, Semper Fi as well as many
          • The DoD would have the money to make it work alright - especially if they happened to build too far to be able to back up easily.

            Apple's own applestore runs on WO, and it gave the classic WO error "No instance available" upon like every fifth request until they added a whole server room just to drive the store.

            Yes, I've seen some sites doing ok with WO, it is possible if you bypass some of the core functionality, and especially if you stick to Direct Actions. But then, you are not using WO, you are writin
  • Up in Canada, the federal Science and Research Council of Canada looks fondly on open source projects, at least the agent i dealt with. They (he) felt that the 'openness' of a project such as this would in some ways achieve what a patent in the field was meant to do, and the dole out generous tax and research grants, even on the likely failure of a project, and (better yet) with little consideration for the commercial viability of the project.

    As far as know, the company has to be incorporated in Canada, b
    • oh fuck ... i clicked submit too quick .. i meant to say that my advise would be Go to Canada: They will pay you to mess around with unprofitable ideas well, except for the poor provinces... they don't care.
  • by rongage ( 237813 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:03PM (#6916622)

    I've received sponsorship money from some pretty [] big [] companies for the development (or augmentation) of an open-source project [] I wrote.

    Now, this wasn't a "here is some money, go write something useful" type of sponsorship, but more along the lines of "we like your work but need a certain feature added. Here is the money, add the feature".

    It probably doesn't help you though, since they (the money) came to me...

    • Damn, fine work (Score:5, Informative)

      by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:24PM (#6916769) Journal
      You did what a lot of Linux developers fail to do: start a business around services that people really need, and just so happen to use Linux to get it done. In the end, the clients won't really care what is under the hood as long as it works.

      My most successful string of open source solutions involved a small break with an audio-video company. I set up a small Linux network, with a small CRM that was based on, believe it or not, a web based PHP driven "application" that I designed to catalogue my DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, games, books, and comic books. mySQL is the backend, Apache its "OS". I added a few useful modules from popular CRMs that I found on Sourceforge. All of this meant nothing to my client, they were only happy that it fit their every need (they were managing customer data, billing, scheduling, and reports across a series of applications like Excel and Quick Books Pro, and good old pen and paper). Needless to say, not only was my solution extremely scalable and cheap, but it removed the hassle of having to have a file cabinet handy and three or four programs. All they did was click a little link on their KDE panel, and up came Mozilla and their portal to my program.

      They quickly refferred me to their lawyer's office, my own dentist, and another small business that specialized in boat repair. I quickly made about $12,000 in my spare time, and not one bit of the software I used cost anything. I have yet to return to any of their sites to fix anything since, and this was over a year ago. The only thing I did was give them each a call when Redhat made RHN available so that they could sign up and have their systems updated for them remotely, for very little $$$. The circle of Linux business life eventually brought money back to Red Hat, whom's OS I used for free as an ISO download, at all of these sites.

      You gotta love it.

    • The licencing of your cell project is inconsistent:

      doc/licence says LGPL.
      But it also has a vague preamble that adds additional terms to the LGPL, namely that derivative works authors must distribute the work back to you ( and thereby release the source to you too.) The plain LGPL does not require this.

      readme says that it is a "commercial open-source" project that can be licenced for $99. This is confusing.

      It would be good if this could be cleared up. I would recommend that you make it LGPL. Ask a lawyer
    • You should have a description on your project on, or a README in your FTP at the very least.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:04PM (#6916627)
    >How could one measure the results of open source >development for publication?"

    The Same way one measures other research results .. Your reseach being opensource has no impact either positive or negative on the reviewers mind. Keep in mind the goals and make sure the job is well done .. Just because it is open source does not mean the results can be mediocre .. some of the best reseach is open source.
  • SBIR/SBTT (Score:3, Informative)

    by s00p41337h4x0r ( 696697 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:06PM (#6916642)
    The government has a fair number of programs that are intended to fund small companies transferring research into products. In particular are the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. While, these particular ones require PhDs or Professors (respectively) to head the projects, you could look at their applications to get an idea of what you ought to put in your proposal.

    Since you're doing medical research, the National Institute of Health's SBIR program [] seems most relevant. You can also find the application forms and guidelines [] if you look around.

    • One minor correction - principal investigators on SBIR/STTR projects don't have to have Ph.D.s - they just have to have qualifications to head up the project. Qualifications can be other than educational credentials (e.g., experience).
  • Why open source? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reservoir Penguin ( 611789 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:06PM (#6916647)
    May I ask you why you decided to open source it?
    Unfortunetly despite of what Eric writes in "The Cathedral and the Baazar" Free Software developers are still most likely to recieve their reward in fame not $$. It may feel good but the Free Software community has so far failed to work out a way to consistently financially reward the actual developers (not hardware compnaies who bundle Linux with their servers!). Even if your project become popular all you'll get from users is bitching and moaning not meaningful bug reports. Just watch the burnout suffered by Fink, MPlayer and Router floppy authors.
  • Focus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jdc180 ( 125863 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:07PM (#6916648)
    If you want to make an open sourced system just for the sake of it being open then you're going to have a hard time. I firmly believe that some things should be open sourced, but it's not always prudent to do so. Every situation is different and open source isn't always the answer. Companies need to make money, even the open source friendly companies release software closed source.

    If you can get grant money based on the finished product then open source is a good idea, but if you need to provide a product that will be sold, i think companies will be a little more frugal handing you money to create something open.
  • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA ( 619114 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:09PM (#6916656) Homepage Journal
    They're [] in the open source medical software biz as well.
  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:10PM (#6916673) Journal
    Make comparisons between what current medical software offers, and what yours can/will. Identify weak points in the current software, or user annoyances (even little things, like the printer that the software company decideds to use as their "solution", but drives the users mad), and promise that these annoynaces and weaknesses will not be present in yours.

    Then, talk about the benefits of an open source application, and talk about it's longevity and low cost of future manipulation. But only briefly, don't get too technical on them. Instead, attack the human aspect. Do some research and find out what the doctors and medical staffers themselves really hate, not their bosses/directors.

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:11PM (#6916678) Homepage
    How could one measure the results of open source development for publication?

    You haven't been in academia long -- the answer is you make up the results like everyone else!

    But seriously, I'm not sure what is unusual about this situation. You apply for the grant, saying you want to research and develop XYZ system. At the end of the time period for the grant, you'll have to show that something happened, whether it is getting 1,000 developers working on it (this is good because you can clam the investment was matched 1,000 times in donations!) or having 12 private clinics and 2 hospital systems evaluating it and participating in system testing.

    Whatever, you make up everything you can think of to measure (lines of code, contributors, patients tracked, data points, countries involved, languages ported to, web site hits, days of uptime, number of compatible legacy systems), keep track of it all, and at the end of the grant you write a paper saying how fantastic all the good stuff was, or why the whole thing failed and should never be attempted again.

    If you really look into currently published stuff, you'll see that 98% of it is just proving and restating the obvious in a way that people can reference for future publications, so that they don't have to waste time on the obvious when the 2% of real research takes place.

    I do applaud you and encourage you (and anyone else with the stomach for grant-writing) to pursue it, you'd be surprised how easy money is to get for useful projects if you can just keep up on the paperwork and wait months and months for every step to happen.

    Get a half-dozen ongoing grants and you can basically have a small company that does pure non-profit open-source development year-round (and one full-time MBA to manage the grants!).
  • by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:15PM (#6916692) Homepage
    Why use open source as a medical record system? Why use the open source model? As one of the replying pundits put it "move out of mom's house and get a real job".

    The reason for using open source software is that it is indeed a collaborative effort. For those of you that think that this is one setup shopping, its time to look at the serious projects that have made some inroads and continue to develop.

    The business model for open source, indeed for those of us who remember a time before the internet (yes there WAS that time), when software started to be packaged with machines. Why, one might ask should one pay for software when it comes for free? Today $450 but tomrrow it's packaged. For those of us who watched carefully we knew that the real money to be made in the world of software would be in support and support applications. To a certain extent those who continue with proprietary and exculsionary sorts of software may well find themselves moved over because of freely available and very robust software.

    The advance of linux and linux clones is such an example of the incursion of open source software. Free? Hardly. Freely available? Always.

    From a standpoint of software design and development, the open source model gives those of us who wish not to be constantly hit up for nickles and dimes ... actually the SCO model for those of you who remember SCO in its heyday before barritry became popular ... a place to find some security. More important is that from a physician standpoint what could be better than CQI, continuous quality improvement. The open source channel makes that not only possible, but nearly mandatory.

    So, those of you who have regarded the only path to enlightenment that of the Gates family or Big Blue, look again at some of the companies doing open source development.

    As for the question about grant seeking; The FreeMED Software Foundation is seeking grants to employ coders and others to better the software. Since the Foundation is a non profit, seeking the development, promulgation and distribution of opensource software, people who are motivated to see better software development can contribute to the making of better software. In a way, donated dollars dictate direction.

    There is much more about the open source movement and the intellectual freedoms that such development permits. Check them out. Check out the FreeMED Software Foundation ( or the open source news list at LinuxMedNews (

    Freely Submitted:

    Irving J. Buchbinder aka DrGnu
    FreeMED Software Foundation
    • The important part to open source is the record format. After that, I can live with open or closed source software to access it. An open file format is imperative though, for any useful portability of records for patients.
    • I dig what you say but I can't help but feel that the statement:

      For those of us who watched carefully we knew that the real money to be made in the world of software would be in support and support applications. pure conjecture and weakens the rest of your argument significantly. There are a very many number of companies who make "real" money through the sale of software, including the 800 pound gorilla from Redmond. It doesn't seem right to me to assert that a relatively untested business mode
  • Sure (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bigjnsa500 ( 575392 )
    Where I work, we were approved for an NSF grant to improve on our in house Live CD distribution. We use it for Internet2 (among other things) so other researchers on campus can experience Internet2 and the Access Grid []. In our case it was easier than manually setting up their windows installations. We give them a disc, tell them reboot and they are instantly connected to our AG Venue. Plus it has other cool features like rsync backups (included their Windows filesystems) if they want to.

    Now we have some fu

  • Speaking as a Grad student, almost all work done within the Academic realm is open source. Professors get funding from various sources, and they are able to publish their work, and then make the source available.

    What you are proposing should work, but it all depends on the source of the funding. Would they be happy with an open source solution, do they even know what open source is? You need to discuss and evaluate this with them, but in theory it should work.
  • The idea of a proposal is to say why you need the money.

    If your project is open source then I assume you intend that other people will work on it for you. In which case, how do you intend to divide up the money?

    Are you intending to take a chunk as salary? How large of a base team do you have? How much do you intend to give them?

    Basically, where is all the money going and how does "Open Source" fit into it?

  • Linux International (Score:2, Informative)

    by MistChild ( 25083 )
    A very good person to ask about this kind of thing would be Jon Hall (Maddog) at Linux International.

    I believe he has been involved with Open Source Development grants and LI might even have such a program.

  • bleck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lonesome phreak ( 142354 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:36PM (#6916844) Journal
    I don't know if anyone could even use it. Under HIPAA law you have to have a business associate's agreement with all vendors, and ALL vendors must supply support for the products or they aren't compliant. That's not even about the actual security or code flow of the program, but the whole project itself.

    I do HIPAA audits, and I couldn't give them a a good rating on the risk analysis if they used it, because of that. No support==non-compliant. I could suggest they buy it from your company if your selling it, I don't see it being used by an IT staff somewhere without a vendor.
    • Re:bleck (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Open Source != unsupported. Users can get
      support contracts if they need them. In fact,
      they can get them from *anyone* competent enough.
      Local shops, big contract shops, anyone - users
      are not tied to the vendor.
    • First of all, HIPAA is only in the US. It wouldn't apply outside US borders (though, other countries may have similar laws, I don't know).

      My guess, however, whoever is funding it will probably try to make some money off of it --> installing and servicing systems (hardware/software), that means they are a vendor, and can come under the Business Associate Agreements.

      I would see problems if the IT staff of the hospital tried to make their owns changes to the source code without consulting the vendor.
      • Re:HIPAA (Score:3, Interesting)

        In creating medical software you have to use code sets. They are somewhat modular, but I don't know how modular they are to be able to change them between countries. That would be up to the writers, and is probably something they really need to look into. If they can make the codesets modular, then that would help in more world-wide acceptance.

        I think the same about the funding. I really was commenting on the whole "open source" of it.

        It won't have the "rouge install" factor behind it, because it can'
    • I don't know if anyone could even use it. Under HIPAA law you have to have a business associate's agreement with all vendors, and ALL vendors must supply support for the products or they aren't compliant. That's not even about the actual security or code flow of the program, but the whole project itself. I do HIPAA audits, and I couldn't give them a a good rating on the risk analysis if they used it, because of that. No support==non-compliant. I could suggest they buy it from your company if your selling

      • Wow. Your an ass. And you completly missed my entire point. I'm not talking about open source in general. Im talking about this particular project. Therefor, your entire argument is moot. I actually agree with you completly. I disagree with the way you say it, as that makes enemies, not converts. I see the thread from your other postings, but I can assure you I'm not the person to take your rage out on. 80% of the machines at my business run Linux. It would be 100% but it's hard to do Win32 security
        • Re:HIPAA (Score:3, Informative)

          by stanwirth ( 621074 )

          No need to get angry. Read what you wrote:

          don't know if anyone could even use it. Under HIPAA law you have to have a business associate's agreement with all vendors, and ALL vendors must supply support for the products or they aren't compliant. That's not even about the actual security or code flow of the program, but the whole project itself. I do HIPAA audits, and I couldn't give them a a good rating on the risk analysis if they used it, because of that. No support==non-compliant. I could suggest

    • hmm, you don't have to have a business associate agreement with anyone that doesn't have access to PHI. Just downloading an application does not require that. (if you have a support contract then they probably have access to PHI and would require an agreement) The real issue would be that your IT dept and company would assume the risk of the application being HIPPA compliant. Few medical organizations would be able to accept that.
      • It has to be HIPAA compliant to hold PHI. It's a medical record app, so obviously it would have that in it. To be HIPAA compliant you have to only use vendor supported software. With that vendor you need to sign a BAA.

        Therefor, I don't think you could just download it and use it without vendor support and it stay compliant. You would have to get support from someone who could sign a BAA, which probably shouldn't be an employee. Or, your IT staff might be able to become the "support", depending on the
        • It has to be HIPAA compliant to hold PHI. It's a medical record app, so obviously it would have that in it. To be HIPAA compliant you have to only use vendor supported software. With that vendor you need to sign a BAA.

          Therefor, I don't think you could just download it and use it without vendor support and it stay compliant. You would have to get support from someone who could sign a BAA, which probably shouldn't be an employee. Or, your IT staff might be able to become the "support", depending on the soft

          • That's a really good question. I'm thinking that there will be some cases brought to court, a spectical made of them by the gov, and then other places will scramble. The computer security portion hasn't passed it's dealine yet, but the privacy part has.

            The basic idea is to keep personal health information private. If you can see other people's charts, then that's not being private, and they are in violation. Someone could report them, and there would be an investigation. It's as simple as going to a we
  • Check out (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The nonprofit open source initiative, at []

    Not sure if the directly answer your question, but: "The Nonprofit Open Source Initiative (NOSI) was begun in June 2001 to bridge this gap between the nonprofit and open source communities."

    Seems like a good place to start, or at least to be in contact people who might be able to point you in the right direction.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You certainly sound like you're at one, or a teaching hospital. Most universities (& hospitals) have research offices to help professors & other researchers apply for and get grants. Many of them are quite good at it. Why?

    Most US (& Canadian) universities make a pile of money by charging "overhead" on grants. This is supposed to cover the costs of physical plant, the library usage related to research, etc. etc.

    There is no relation between the costs of overhead and the value of the services pro
  • LinuxFund (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChipX86 ( 102440 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:42PM (#6916883) Homepage has been kind enough to supply two of my projects (GNUpdate [] and Gaim for Qtopia []) with funding and hardware. It may not directly relate to your question, since it sounds like you already have someone that may be giving you the money, but you can look at their policies and requirements, and request more information.
  • by TastySiliconWafers ( 581409 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:42PM (#6916884)
    I'd suggest you try contacting people at eFilm Medical []. They developed PACS workstation software that, if I recall correctly, was funded by the Canadian government. You could also try contacting Bob Cox [], who built a software package called AFNI for analysis of neurofunctional MRI data (an NIH funded project).

    I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to get NIH funding and/or grants from other sources to build a low-cost or freeware EMR system with a well-written proposal and a knowledgeable Principle Investigator directing the project (you probably need someone with a PhD in Medical Informatics or an M.D./D.O. to be your PI). If you don't have a qualified PI to head the project yet, find one. You don't want to be perceived as a novice. The people you contact will likely be far more helpful the more you sound like you know what you're doing.

  • Grant Writing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Ape With No Name ( 213531 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:44PM (#6916894) Homepage
    My advice to you (I have received several grants and fellowships) is to really be tight on the proposal. If the grant application asks you to write it in blood, write it in blood. I have also been on committees that review grant proposals. We would kick proposals, unread, for not having the correct format on the TITLE PAGE! When I complained that this was a minor thing, the committee chair looked over her glasses and said, "If it isn't perfect, then it doesn't deserve our consideration or our money." Be tight. That is my advice.
    • Re:Grant Writing (Score:3, Informative)

      As far as how do you tell if you justifierd your grant...

      Most grants have to include an objective as well as a summary of how the objective can be verified and progress measured. I would figure for a software project grant you would either work out a concrete specification of data and structure (such as a standardized system to base future developments and cross-platform data compatibility guidelines) or base system with a realitically obtainable (and usable) featureset.

  • Grant proposal writing can be very esoteric and specialized. I suggest that you ask the agency offering the money for suggestions as to where you could get help writing your proposal.

    Good luck. This is a field that desperately needs Free Software.
  • Who is the Donor? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @08:50PM (#6916928)
    Not that I want to know, but the goals and interests of the funding agency should be reflected in your proposal. For example, if the funding agency is interested in third-world health, then play up the low cost of the software for impoverished/disadvantaged clinics. If the donor is a big pharma company, then play up how they could "give this away" to potential customers or use it in clinical research. If the third party is more interested in academic research, then show how the system can support data collection, double-blind studies, etc. I'm not sure that the "open source" angle will have much traction unless you can show that the open source process multiplies the impact of the donor's money.

    The more you know who the donor is, the better your proposal will sound to them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that this shouldn't be open source? Do you not remember what RMS has said about proprietary software?

    A non-free program is a predatory social system that keeps people in a state of domination and division, and uses the spoils to dominate more. It may seem like a profitable option to become one of the emperor's lieutenants, but ultimately the ethical thing to do is to resist the system and put an end to it.

    The last thing we need is to have a predatory social system injected into our medical profession
  • I once developed a Callcenter Training Utility for our company in the early 90's using such a grant scheme. It used genetic algorithms to generate simulated customer complaints that were _very_ realistic, even to the point of using sample voices to "whine". Of course, the helpdesk trainees hated it...

    But hey, the mewling was featureful.
  • I have worked at a company (for a short time) who's most of its software was BASED on GPL'ed free open source software, one of their software packages is a CMS based off phpnuke ( ) They Make about $35,000 a MONTH from their commercial PHP based CMS system which was just ripped off from phpnuke my boss just paid a out of school programmer to just change it as much as possible. But its suffered from the same security exploits as nuke even after 1 year of selling and working on it.. I
    • So you were just leeching right? Your Boss seems to have made quite a bit of money finding customers for someone else's work while taking all the credit for themselves and not puting any back. How have GPL lovers created problems for him? well they might now after you ratted him out on /.!

      Your Boss represents the problems with public perception of the internet in general [RIAA, MPAA, KAZZA, etc]. Nobody wants to RESPECT other's rights in business. After all, there's no need to hide what he's doing, a

  • 1.) Get a job doing whatever. 2.) Buy caffeine and computer parts with money from job 3.) Use caffeine to stay up late working on the OSS Project
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Some time ago, one of our clients had a need for medical software for a very small business. Since they did not have a lot of income to purchase expensive software, I had researched into the medical field briefly. You might find a couple of the links below may lead you to some people that can help you find the information you need to get yourself on your way. Some may even be willing to lend you a hand.
  • Seriously, have you tried the American Medical Association?

    The AMA awards grants for all kinds of things -- sometimes even worthwhile things -- sometimes even productive things!

    Surely the prospect of funding a productive piece of medical software would be in their best interests!

    A word of advice: make sure it's DOS so it will work on most doctors' computers.
  • Plenty of examples (Score:3, Informative)

    by yiantsbro ( 550957 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @10:10PM (#6917620)
    There are many examples of this available. My group (at a medical school) has collaborated on a number of grant projects (government and private granting agencies) where money was awarded for the development of open source software. In fact, the grants we have worked on require that the software be made publicly available (although most of what we do is of little interest outside of clinical/educational medicine).

    If you want another great example, contact the IT group at the University of Delaware. They developed (under a grant and collaboration with a few other schools) uPortal. This is an open source portal system which is packaged and serviced by several different vendors (RedHat style) like SCT and Campus Pipeline. Since the development they have found they get a better response from other granting organizations as well as vendors (like Blackboard and WebCT to develop modules for it). So not only do you get the immediate benefit of money to assist in the development (to pay salaries, buy computers, buy software, etc.) but you get many continuing benefits from it as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You might want to do some investigation with the Veterans Administration also. They have done alot with Medical systems for the government both public and private system. I worked with one that used to be called Veterans File Manager.
  • by drfireman ( 101623 ) <dan AT kimberg DOT com> on Tuesday September 09, 2003 @11:20PM (#6918186) Homepage
    One example I'm familiar with is the NIH Office on Neuroinformatics (no link provided, I don't want to Slashdot my funding agency!) supports the development of software for things like brain imaging and databasing. Their funded projects include lots of open source and GPLed projects, some directed by Slashdot readers (well, at least one). I don't know of any place where you can find successful applications, but you can at least browse some project descriptions.

    This is just one example, I'm sure there are many others even just at the NIH (incl. at the new NIBIB).
  • This probably isn't the answer you're looking for, but there is work being done on an open currency for the open source movement. Check out: rency.php
  • 1. Form a small business
    2. Write Phase I proposal
    3. Receive Phase I award
    4. Write Phase II proposal
    5. Recieve Phase II award
    6. $$$

    Check out the NIH SBIR [] page. You might be interested in the "Clinical Technology Applications" topic for the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR).

  • Open Mash + NSF (Score:2, Informative)

    by Josuah ( 26407 )
    Open Mash [] was funded for a while by the NSF [], a common source of academic funding. I'm not sure if you and your colleagues are in an academic setting, but the Open Mash web site does have the proposals and reviews of those proposals available on the site. Check out the Papers and Publications [] area.

    I'm not exactly sure what you're asking when you talk about measuring the results of an open source project for publication. But any proposal would have to talk about why the project you are proposing has value in
  • No seriously, people will pay to have their software improved, even if they believe that you have to use open source to do it, and that therefore your software must be open source. So go ahead, feel free to accept the money, it is an honor and it is in the public service. Should you ask, I am sure I could name many who've had that particular honor. Does anyone care about that?
  • Googling on relevant keywords like: ih+grant+proposal&btnG=Google+Search&hl=en&lr=&ie= UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 Turns up nice things. Here's the first hit: And there are other interesting pages like: Happy fund hunting!
  • writing a good grant! focus on this.

    don't worry about the open source thing, publishing under an open source license is very compatible with the spirit of doing science. after all, your peers should be able to use the outcome of your research, and follow up on it, right?

    but: who will own the copyright to the software? this is the only thing you need to figure out. all the research i do belongs to my employer (university), which becomes especially important when i would like to make money with it. check wh
  • There is Freemed (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There is already FreeMed ( Check them out. You might join forces. They are very nice people and need all the help they can get.
  • open source (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vudmaska ( 584760 )
    Medical records NEED to be open source precisely because of the nature of the business of keeping medical records. No one wants to share. I dont care if you can't read mine. Without an industry push possibly backed by big players the medical records will remain on islands, lost, inefficient and ineffective.
  • ITK (Score:2, Informative)

    The Insight Segmentation and Registration Toolkit (ITK at was funded by NIH/National Library of Medicine. From the beginning of the $10 million project, the contract required all code and data to be delivered in open-source form. It defined a consortium of 6 prime contractors (3 academic, 3 commercial) each of whom had a particular role (e.g., architecture, algorithms, software process). It has been a great experience (version 1.4 will be released in two weeks).
  • If you look at most open source software, its development was not the prime objective of the research project.

    Rather, the objective is to do something new, interesting and different from what has been done before.

    Your proposal should combine some ingredients that would make the medical records system better in a signficant way. It doesn't have to be rocket science, but it can include some ideas that you have to make it a different project than just wrapping up a SQL engine with a GUI.

    My own suggestion i

  • Isn't that what the "Paypal Donate" button is for (the one that never gets clicked...once) ?
  • They usually have a proposal information booklet.

    You need to do a spreadsheet with a budget, but list only the Principal Investigator by name, that way if someone quits, everything is still fine. List people by job name not real name.

    Accounting requires someone capable of real math or experienced, preferably both, because you need to calculate indirect costs and read about what is unbillable, etc. Take the accounting very seriously, any carelessness or worse will get you into real trouble (including lega
  • zherlock. (Score:2, Informative)

    by hyfe ( 641811 )
    I'm currently working on an open-source general data-analyses tool named Zherlock (

    We're actually funded by 'norsk forskningsrad' (norwegian councel of science), and we're situated at my uni. If you're going to take money, there are a couple of questions you're going to have to ask yourself:

    1. What does the grant-giver want in return? While some grants are nearly no-strings attached, in the end there's strings on everything; and no exceptions made..

    2. How much more time will you spend

  • I want to be paid to write more stuff like Tux Paint [].
    But, I suppose that's mainly because I'm lacking a full-time job. (Stupid Worldcom) :^)
  • Your project cannot be wholly original. Research Grant organizations don't like originality. They like continuation; gap-filling. That sort of thing.

    First off, decide what you want to do. Then, find copies of every research paper you can find that is related. When you write your proposal, follow the standard format for an academic paper or proposal. This involves showing how your work relates to the work done by these other people.

interlard - vt., to intersperse; diversify -- Webster's New World Dictionary Of The American Language