The social networking platform Twitter has announced the winners of its inaugural data grants program, which will give selected research institutions access to the entire history of tweets related to their research topics. One of the six institutions, Harvard Medical School (in conjunction with Boston Children's Hospital), plans to use the Twitter data to study foodborne illness.

In making the announcement on Twitter's blog yesterday, Raffi Krikorian, vice president of platform engineering, said,

"In February, we introduced the Twitter #DataGrants pilot program, with the goal of giving a handful of research institutions access to Twitter’s public and historical data. We are thrilled with the response from the research community — we received more than 1,300 proposals from more than 60 different countries, with more than half of the proposals coming from outside the U.S.

"After reviewing all of the proposals, we’ve selected six institutions, spanning four continents, to receive free datasets in order to move forward with their research."

Krikorian added, "As we welcome Gnip to Twitter, we look forward to expanding the Twitter #DataGrants program and helping even more institutions and academics access Twitter data in the future."