Crowdsourcing for health. New Wellcome Trust seed funded project

31 March, 2016

We have recently heard that an application for seed funding from the Wellcome Trust themed call ‘Social media and health’, has been successful. ‘Crowdsourcing for Health’ is a partnership between Medical Humanities Sheffield, the Philosophy Department of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Health and Consumer Protection
(IHCP)

We are delighted at this news, as the project puts us in a good position to begin exploring the significant potential, but also challenge, of new media technologies in biomedical sciences. New media technologies are breaking down barriers and changing how knowledge works. We aim to be part of the change.

Details of the project:

‘Crowdsourcing for Health: Scientists and Patients Reconfiguring Trials and Regulatory Practices’

PI: Dr Annamaria Carusi of Medical Humanities Sheffield

Crowdsourcing is reshaping key gatekeeping mechanisms in healthcare such as regulatory tests and clinical trials. This project will compare scientific and patient communities in order to identify the main opportunities and challenges for healthcare of this redistribution of knowledge for healthcare. The project focuses on the inter-relationship between epistemic, social, pragmatic and ethical drivers in four main areas:

1. distribution and assessment of information and knowledge,
2. integrity and robustness of research,
3. ethical questions raised by the allocation of responsibility and the management of risk,
4. social acceptance and adoption of new modes of knowledge gatekeeping by scientists and
patients.

The main activities of the project are 1) to conduct comparative pilot studies of an emerging science community crowdsourcing information and knowledge for regulatory tests for drug assessment, and of patient communities that have produced patient-led clinical trials and similar initiatives that inform patient choices and apply pressure on healthcare providers; 2) to build an interdisciplinary and international community of researchers who will be in a position to collaborate on key questions and challenges in crowdsourcing for health, and inform the ongoing development of these resources.

Key partners in the project are Dr Giovanni De Grandis at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Clemens Wittwehr of the Systems Toxicology Unit of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Health and Consumer Protection
(IHCP).