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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scientists Turn To Crowdfunding For Research

It’s a tough time for medical researchers in the U.S.

The percentage of research grants winning federal funding is at a low ebb, and Washington budget battles could result in less money in the future.

Some scientists are turning to crowdfunding — asking people online to directly support their research.

A cancer researcher in Seattle turned to his patients and their families to raise money for a new cancer therapy that he developed.

Now he’s expanding his search for non-traditional ways of supporting drug discovery, in hopes of finding cures faster.

NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca joins us to talk about the growing practice of crowdfunding science.

Correction note: The audio for this story includes a misspeak about the percentage of research grants winning government funding. Only 18 percent of the grant applications to the National Institutes of Health were funded in 2012, compared to 31 percent a decade earlier.


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  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    Government support for scientific research has been eroding since the mid-seventies. The government has been especially hostile to research in systems science, for reasons that become obvious once you realize the implications of 20th Century breakthroughs in systems science.

  • Peter Melzer

    The reported funding percentages seem too high. These days, some investigator-initiated applications at the NCI do not get funded at ten percent. The institute is using a so-called “sliding scale” according to which some people get funded at ten percent, others won’t, and yet others get funded at 13 percent. Guess which proposals are not funded?

    The sliding scale undermines the work of the study sections of experts which score the applications and the process entirely loses credibility, turning away generations of young investigators with novel ideas.

  • jfn

    New Crowdfunding Portals such as Crowdfundingcures.com are launching and should help fund many of these seed activities that can then be funded by more traditional funding, angels, VC etc…..all part of the ecosystem of capital raise…

  • Darryl Mitteldorf

    Start A Cure at http://startacure.com launched this year and already has helped cancer research projects from Harvard, John’s Hopkins, MD Anderson and UCLA. Start A Cure is the largest and first of all of the new research crowdfunding platforms.

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