Sign on UCSD: Docphin

UCSD’s viable population of premedical students has new website to look forward to: Docphin. 

The platform, which launched it’s beta website last Monday, Nov. 14 allowed its initial slew of medical students, residents, fellows and physicians at UCSD to test out the user-friendly news aggregator, which collects articles from medical journals and news sites.

Derek Juang, a UCSD clinical medicine assistant professor and physician at the Department of Veteran Affairs in the San Diego Healthcare System, is part of the trio of founders who have combined backgrounds in medicine, business and technology.

The inspiration for the site came to him during Juang’s own frustrations back in medical school.

 “Everyone’s always expecting us to stay on top of the latest medical research,” Juang said. “For medical students, there’s so many journals out there and so many different sources. We don’t know which ones are good. They either mail it to you or they email it to you or you just got to go to their website.”

The developers tackled the tricky problem of filtering irrelevant articles by personalizing interests and specialties. Users can customize article sources that interest them, ranging from public health to pediatrics to plastic surgery. Docphin’s dashboard even lets users add and personalize a Twitter feed on the sidebar.

Like classic engines, the site sorts by categories like most viewed, recent or commented. There’s also an option to make an article a favorite and share it on social networking sites.

Currently, users can only view the first few paragraphs of a medical or news article, which is linked to its original source. 

Only those who have journal subscriptions or work at a hospital or university with purchased subscriptions can view full articles. But news media sites, like CNN, are free. “This is a fabulous source for medical news and new discoveries,” UCSD second- year medical student Zana Ahmad said in an email. “Above all, it will help me organize my articles and prioritize my searches according to my interests.”

The site is currently visually lacking in photos and graphics, but the developers plan to eventually re-format Docphin into an interactive, magazine-like platform to include pictures, videos and surveys, as well as add new user experience features next year, including optimizing keywords and creating a mobile platform for the iPhone, iPad and Android. The creators are also planning to host advertisements on the website and eventually generate some revenue.

Docphin’s one-letter difference from dolphin, the marine mammal, is no mistake. “We were drowning in all this information,” Juang said, explaining the clever metaphor. “So, we wanted something that represented us getting out of a situation where we were drowning and something that represented something intelligent and smart, so a dolphin came to mind.”

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