Doctor Fabio Zanini from UNSW Medicine has received a $270,000 grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) to support open source software projects essential to biomedical research, enabling software maintenance, growth, development, and community engagement.

Dr Zanini is co-awardee of the grant with Dr Vincent Traag from University of Leiden. Their grant is one of 23 to receive a share of $5.7 million in funding from the CZI.  

“Open source software is crucial to modern scientific research, advancing biology and medicine, however even the most popular research software finds it difficult to get funding,” Dr Zanini said.

“The CZI grant will enable us to bring new life into a very popular and highly optimised library for network science, impacting a broad range of research fields from social media to single cell biomedicine.”

The grant will be used to develop igraph – a network analysis package. Igraph is an open source software project to compute graphs or networks efficiently across several programming languages: C, Python, R and Mathematica.

Networks play an important role in various studies, ranging from analysing epidemics in human populations to studying connectivity in electrical circuits. Igraph is a popular package for analysing large networks.

“Hundreds of thousands of scientists each day use open source software to carry out their research,” said CZI Head of Science Cori Bargmann. “Scientists deserve better tools, and we’re helping to meet that need by supporting open source projects that will advance biomedical science and foster greater access to critical software.”

CZI staff will support awarded projects by convening grantee meetings and connecting open source software developers to technical experts, scientists, and one another, including other CZI-funded grantees and members of the broader scientific community.

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the CZI is a philanthropy that leverages technology to help solve some of the world’s challenges. The CZI offers grants across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity.