Experimenting With CrowdSourcing Biological Discovery


Crowdsourcing Discovery (Image Credit: Crowdsourcing Discovery)

When the average age for biologists to get the big NIH grant has gone up to the magic number 42, Scientists need to outside the box not just in their scientific approach, but also on how to fund their research.

Ethan Perlstein, a Princeton researcher, is doing exactly that and is experimenting with crowd-funded approach to do science. Just like a professional researcher does experiment, Ethan Perlstein has been priming for the crowdfunding effort through a series of blog posts on his website detailing how much money is spent in his lab over four-year period in his lab.

The carefully planned crowdfunding effort by Ethan Perlestein opened early this week for public test, asking for money on http://www.rockethub.com/, one of the popular crowdfunding websites. Unlike kickstarter, Rockethub allows the fund raising campaigner get the raised money even if it falls below what is asked for.

Ethan Perlstein and his team are looking to raise $25,000 to take a first step in understanding how the drug “Crystal meth” aka Amphetamines work. More specifically, the team looks to use the money for funding three months work asking where exactly in the brain cells the drug accumulates in mice brain.

Half of the money will go towards 3 months of salary and benefits of one full-time research technician and the other half will go to supplies and equipments for doing the experiments. In turn, Ethan Perlestein is promising to offer a lots of goodies, ranging from “tweet support” to a “co-authorship” in the paper for the enthusiastic supporters of the project.

Crowdsourcing Discovery from Crowdsourcing Discovery on Vimeo.


Although crowdfunding efforts have been greatly successful for a number of technological initiatives like Oculus Rift at Kickstarter, it still has not met with success for basic science related projects yet. Especially, $25,000 is a tough ask in a crowdfunding website like RocketHub, which aims for small/medium budgets of the order of $5K-10K.  And to raise $25,000 in a relatively short time, Ethan Perlestein needs at least 300-400 funders contributing $25-$50 (or it needs NY Times article to launch it like Diaspora, a open source Facebook alternative).


CrowdfundingStatus(Image Credit: Crowdsourcing Discovery Page at RocketHub)

Would you fund such a crowd funding science project? If yes, visit Ethan’s Crowdfunding Disovery page on RocketHub.com. The Crowdfunding Disovery project has attracted $3,610 of $25,000 so far and needs more than $21,000 in the next 41 days. Go ahead and fuel the science project in whatever little way you could.  Spread the word for science.

Visit perlsteinlab.com to learn more about the science and project.

Speak Your Mind