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TUSK began as the HSDB, the Health Sciences Database, in 1995. The project was an outgrowth of an academic health sciences campus-wide planning project undertaken under a 1991 grant from the National Library of Medicine. The grant had been awarded under the IAIMS program, Integrated Academic Information Management System, the goals of which were to use technology to enhance the clinical, educational, administrative and research activities of an academic health center. This integrated planning process under the lead of the Hirsh Health Sciences Library, HHSL, had a tremendous impact on Tufts' direction.

Tufts University School of Medicine provided start-up funds to the HHSL and soon thereafter, 1997, the National Library of Medicine, NLM, awarded the HHSL a three year grant. Recognizing that the Health Sciences Library served all three health sciences schools it seemed natural to allow all three schools access to the database and its tools. When NLM grant funding ended the schools found the system so useful that a decision was made to form a joint steering committee for cross-school governance and funding.

After a brief stint with a proprietary database structure our systems architect, then an MD/PhD student, convinced all that using open source software would lead to greater flexibility in achieving our mission. Over the past three years Tufts has shared the TUSK infrastructure with two other institutions, and a third will soon join the group. Our goal is to form a consortium of schools all of whom are interested in enhancing the TUSK build in ways that no single school could achieve.