Crowdsourcing Cures

By Ashley Murrell


May 2, 2014

!–paging_filter–pWhen an 11-year-old terminal pediatric brain tumor patient named Violet chose to donate her brain to science it inspired brain cancer specialist Jim Olson to rethink how he tackles finding a cure for cancer. He founded a href=””Project Violet/a, a program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center by which, for a donation of $100, anyone can join one of four experiment teams—Sunflower, Spider, Scorpion or Violet. Each team represents a protein found in nature that Fred Hutch scientists are studying to kill tumors. Team Spider, for example, tests a protein from the funnel web spider and Team Scorpion investigates a scorpion protein. Project Violet is one of a handful of local startups that are finding ways to get the community involved in their health research. In October, a href=””HiveBio/a opened its doors in Laurelhurst as Seattle’s first DIY bio lab, where, for a monthly or single-use fee, people can take hands-on classes and workshops led by volunteer experts on topics medical to technical, such as biofuels, making a microscope or learning how to dissect a sheep brain. Another crowdfunding startup akin to Project Violet is Seattle-based a href=””Experiment/a, a kind of Kickstarter for science launched by two University of Washington grads that has garnered Bill Gates’ seal of approval. Researchers post projects here that need funding; as of press time, the medical category included a project researching the link between lung infections and dementia, and curing heart disease using human stem cells./p