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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

With Unpredictable Federal R&D Backing Can Crowdfunding Fill the Gaps?

Credit: Tax Credits, via Flickr
Credit: Tax Credits, via Flickr

The White House released its $3.78 trillion fiscal year 2014 budget plan this week after much political wrangling in Washington DC. Among the winners and losers science looks like it’s emerged victorious, with government-funded R&D showing 9% gains over 2012 levels. This news comes closely on the heels of the Rally for Medical Research that was held in front of the Carnegie Library in the capital where around 10,000 researchers, medical professionals and protesters gathered to protest budget cuts that would hurt basic research due to the sequestration. Under the sequestration, cuts to the National Institute of Health topped $1.6 billion on March 1, with more cuts being only a matter of time.

Although it’s looking like these cuts to important medical R&D may be rectified in this budget, we live in a time of worrying national budget volatility, where the shifting political and economic sands put long-term science funding in politicians’ cross-hairs. To combat this seemingly new normal, some researchers are turning to innovative crowdfunding models to keep experiments financed. One such researcher is Ethan Perlstein, an evolutionary pharmacologist who launched a very different kind of experiment than is dictated by his academic work when he set out to raise $25,000 on the crowdfunding facilitator RocketHub. Yesterday, ASTMH Executive Director Karen Goraleski discussed this model and the future of crowdfunding science with Perlstein and PLOS NTDs Editor-in-Chief, Peter Hotez via Google Hangouts.

View the full video here.


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