Citizen Science Project Harnesses The Crowd To Develop New Drugs

Citizen Science Project Harnesses The Crowd To Develop New Drugs

Could you create an antibiotic that saves millions of lives?

Ross Brooks
  • 3 december 2013

What would happen if it wasn’t the responsibility of research institutions and pharmaceutical companies to come up with new antibiotics? What if it was the job of the general public instead? These are questions that Josiah Zayner and Mark Opal are trying to answer with their latest project; The International Laboratory for the Identification of New Drugs, otherwise known as”ILIAD.”

ILIAD relies on citizen scientists who would test specimens like plants and insects for antibiotic properties. Many modern medicines started their life in just this way; penicillin is derived from fungi, and a promising drug devised from the Chinese plant red sage is currently in clinical trials. Drug development isn’t easy, but crowdsourcing could turn the tide in favor of important discoveries seeing the light of day, as opposed to collecting dust on a big pharmaceutical’s shelf for not being “profitable” enough.


“When Josiah first told me about this idea, I thought it was bullshit, because I know how hard drug development is,” Opal says. “But [looking to nature] is one main way antibiotics have been discovered in the past, and I really think that crowdsourcing has the potential to give us big advantages.”

To participate, you can sponsor ILIAD on Indiegogo to get hold of a testing kit; $42 will get you a basic package, while $500 will result in a classroom kit designed for groups of students. As time goes on, the two also plan to develop an interactive, Wiki-style ILIAD website that offers a map-based database of which substances have been tested, in which locations, and whether or not they yielded successful results.

While your discovery might not make you famous, it could prove a huge boon to the global community, which would hopefully be enough for most people. “I grew up during the open-sourced software movement, and computing was completely changed by that,” said Zayner. “I want science to work the same way. Imagine the breakthroughs we could have if science was available to everybody.”


Source: The Verge

Images: ILIAD


Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology Yesterday

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children Yesterday

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Yesterday

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Colin Nightingale

Interactive Theatrical Experiences

Food Yesterday

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated Yesterday

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Fashion Yesterday

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work Yesterday

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing Yesterday

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Automotive Yesterday

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

Gaming & Play Yesterday

This Game Lets You Be A Pilot In The Drone Racing League

DRL Racing Simulator recreates actual courses in a virtual environment

Travel december 1, 2016

Hotel Chain Is Giving Away Its Not-So-Super Hotel Art At Art Basel

A lesson in how to advertise a kitschy-to-cool redesign in the middle of Miami Art Week

No search results found.