The data-sharing model that Michael Pollastri envisions as critical to speeding development of cures for neglected diseases comes with upfront costs—and to cover those, he has turned to a tactic from the world of do-it-yourself venture capitalism.
Pollastri has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Microryza, a Web platform that hosts campaigns in support of science research. His goal is to raise $25,000 by late December.
As of mid-November, donors had pledged $4,437.The money would be used to
• develop a password-protected, cloud-based platform where neglected-disease researchers would post their data
• execute a media strategy to publicize the model in the medical research community
• provide seed funding for small but vital experiments in support of consortium members’ projects.
The appeal on the Microryza site notes that the community of drug-discovery researchers working in neglected diseases is small, poorly coordinated, and resource-challenged. Sharing research is the most direct way to amplify impact, says Pollastri, by promoting collaboration on the most promising approaches, avoiding duplication of effort, and in general, “harmonizing our assets.”
But to attract the largest possible number of scientists, Pollastri’s model is a hybrid of open data sharing, providing protection against potential misuse by requiring members to abide by certain terms. Beyond that, he wants to impose no rules for how the collaborations play out.
“My interest is in giving [colleagues] the information they need to make their own decisions,” he says.
To view Pollastri’s crowdfunding site, click here.