Open Science

I saw this tweet from my partner Andy yesterday and immediately clicked through to see what he was talking about

He was talking about an announcement our portfolio company Science Exchange made yesterday. If you don’t want to click thru and read about it, I will summarize here.

Science Exchange is exactly what it sounds like, a marketplace for scientific services where you can find the right resarcher and laboratory to help you complete a research project you are working on.

Yesterday, they announced that The Center For Open Science was making $1.3mm available, via ScienceExchange, to reproduce and validate 50 important cancer biology studies.

I am excited about this for a bunch of reasons; 1) reproducing and validating research is critical, 2) The Center For Open Science is taking a marketplace model to funding this work, and 3) it points to the broader potential for Science Exchange to break down silos, open up research, and lead to better and faster scientific discovery.

As Andy said in his tweet, Open Science really is a thing. A good thing.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Wow. This is the kind of thing that gives me hope for our species. You guys must feel so good about this one.

    1. fredwilson

      We do

    2. sigmaalgebra

      > hope for our speciesGet the average number of children perwoman up to at least 2.1. Currentlythe number in Finland is 1.5 which meansthat in 10 generations 30 Finns willbecome about 1 — will the last Finnplease turn out the lights and lock thedoor.Right: We’re rapidly going extinct.

      1. Chimpwithcans

        Don’t worry, Africa’s got your back πŸ™‚

      2. kidmercury

        population crisis is my favorite thing to worry about over which i have no control. there are some signs suggesting we are bottoming in terms of the decline in the birth rate, at least in the US. ultimately i think we will need biotechnology advancements, namely stem cell research that enables greater reproductive freedom — particularly the ability to reproduce at a later age — to really solve the demographic problem. cultural and economic changes are needed as well, but i am confident we will get there.

    3. Tess Mayall

      Thanks Kirsten! I work for Science Exchange. We all are extremely passionate about improving science and are working our hardest to make it happen.

      1. panterosa,

        RIGHT ON!!!

  2. William Mougayar

    I often wondered if scientists and researchers co-operated around the world or just competed in silos.Pick any health topic that’s not solved yet, and you get 50 divergent views on how to prevent it, or what causes it.It’s time to converge these findings, and go for the breakthroughs in a collective manner. Damn it! Maybe this will help.

    1. awaldstein

      There will continue to be non agreement. The important thing is that the differences have a place to be voiced and heard.

      1. William Mougayar

        OK, but more importantly, the goal is to find solutions, and get agreements too.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      oh OH !You said ” in a collective manner πŸ™‚

      1. William Mougayar

        oops. is that a bad word.

    3. kidmercury

      most issues have already been solved, only those that yield revenue for pharamceutical industries will be given a voice.

      1. William Mougayar

        most issues have been solved????how’s that.alzheimers, all forms of cancer, asthma, diabetes, etc..

        1. kidmercury

          for cancer, there are already multiple cures. the book the china study shows the link between cancer and consumption of animal protein and is supported by tons of research. there is also laetrile, there is a web site, world without cancer, that goes into that a bit more and other solutions.alzheimers and many other neuro-degenerative diseases are the result of environmental pollution, vaccines, and fluoridated water.diabetes is another thing vastly impacted by nutrition.many, many diseases, perhaps most diseases, are just nutritional deficiency of some kind (or conversely, a pollution of some kind, but the two are related as consumption of pollutants often exploits nutritional deficiencies).except for severe cases when the body is disabled, the body can heal itself if properly fueled.

          1. ShanaC

            how is that possible – eating soy proteins would increase my risk due to estrogenic compounds….

          2. kidmercury

            the soy/estrogen hypothesis is disputed, but proponents of the china study advocate an 80/10/10 diet, and thus claim that the need for protein is vastly overstated. diverse vegetable consumption can easily satisfy the 10% requirement they advocate as well as ensuring the right collection of amino acids to optimize utilization of protein consumed.

          3. SubstrateUndertow

            There are so many light-wait studies trying to MAP out the relationships between our behaviour, food, environment, and human genetics.Human health is such a complex environmental organic that we need to be very cognizant of the fact that our present MAPPING of this topic is likely to be extremely incomplete if not out right faulty.This topic requires extreme cautionlet’s notMIX UP THE MAP WITH THE TERRITORY

          4. Chimpwithcans

            As Fred says above, reproducing result is critical, so let’s get more scientists onto that China Study to move forwards on the WholeFoods revival! πŸ™‚

          5. kidmercury

            I don’t know why you are bringing up whole foods as that had nothing to do with this or anything I said (though I Ann a whole foods fanboy for sure). Anyway, the science supporting the viewpoint that animal protein, particularly casein, causes cancer has been proven time and time again (though still disputed, of course). The real issue is that this science receives no publicity, as there is insufficient incentive to do so based on the predominant value chains.

          6. Richard

            whole foods != whole foods

          7. ShanaC

            For breast cancer, which is known that in many cases is fed by estrogenic compounds? (and for which I am already plenty high risk for….)I like tofu and seitan too – and yet I stay away because staying away is easier on the body than tamoxifen….

          8. William Mougayar

            oy…so many incorrect statements there.

          9. kidmercury

            enlighten us!

          10. William Mougayar

            “alzheimers and many other neuro-degenerative diseases are the result of environmental pollution, vaccines, and fluoridated water.”ppplease. Kid, you’re smarter than that.Alzheimers is one of the most vexing medical puzzles. That, and cancer, among others.

          11. kidmercury

            Dr Russell blaylock, neurologist, had written numerous papers showing the connection between aluminum consumption and neurotoxicity that results in Alzheimer’…Of course anyone who disagrees with mainstream science is a kook, and you will find other “scientists” (using the term liberally here, as it can include pharmaceutical salespeople) who seek disagree with him.

          12. William Mougayar

            That’s 1 data point, and it proves what I said earlier that there divergent ones out there. If it was so categorically correct, then we should be closer to solving that one, whereas we’re not. It’s not like there is a vaccine for it.

          13. Guest

            Just like all forms of kookology, the truth is clear upon examination, but unpublicized and rejected because the implications agree uncomfortable. The right answer is always a miniature in the beginning.

          14. kidmercury

            there’s more than one data point.…having the correct science and solving the problem are two different things. having the correct science is the easy part. convincing others you have it is the hard part. especially when you don’t have the money to promote it, and when the implications are uncomfortable and not a fun, feel-good story.

          15. William Mougayar

            I am a supporter of Alzheimer Associations. I know what they know.

          16. kidmercury

            fair enough, everyone has their religion….

          17. Tracey Jackson

            One doesn’t even know how to reply to a blanket statement like this. I guess I just agree with William on this one .OY.

          18. kidmercury

            my favorite comments are the ones that say something is wrong, and act as though their mere declaration is sufficient evidence. the arrogance is humorous.

          19. Tracey Jackson

            I didn’t say the cure to cancer could be found at Whole Foods!

          20. kidmercury

            and neither did i. perhaps you should read my comment more closely, consider the sources i cited, and counter with your own sources, assuming you have something besides an opinion.

          21. SubstrateUndertow

            Sorry but even the best sources are on shaky ground when it comes to relationships between our behaviour, food, environment, and human genetics.We are just “scratching the iceberg” on this one!A battle of “SOURCES” would probably be endlessly counterproductive on this topic?To know when we knowAnd to know when we don’t knowThis is knowledge!

          22. kidmercury

            You will always find people who express a different viewpoint and hide behind what they claim to be authentic science. By the rarionale you are advocating here, we should shrug our shoulders to everything and just say we don’t know.I prefer to make educated guesses, especially when I find one version of science to be far more probable.

          23. SubstrateUndertow

            Agreed !Just saying this whole area of research requires a healthy “window of doubt” as even the best research gives fuzzy results, more like best-bets than scientific certainties.

          24. William Mougayar

            yup. i don’t know where to start!

          25. SubstrateUndertow

            Agreed, nutrition is an important aspect of mitigating genetic propensities toward disease and minimizing environmental pollutions is also helpful but neither is a universal or realistically feasible health solution.Finding cures or workable disease remediation schemes are still of prime importance to anyone inflicted by serious health issues.Proper nutrition is just one major ingredient in the complex organic gestalt that is human health. It is not a magic bullet.Researching cures or disease mitigating solution can save society $billions and to individual sufferers it is priceless!

          26. jason wright

            is fish on the list?

          27. kidmercury

            the china study and its supporting research concludes that all animal protein increases the likelihood of cancer with no benefit that cannot be derived from a plant-based diet. the usual criticisms of fish from this crowd relate more so to polluted oceans and the toxins that fish will carry with them as a result, which may increase the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases. on the flip side nothing beats the taste of a good sushi roll!

          28. jason wright

            i stay away from big fish, the top predators, like tuna (mercury), for this reason. minnows are a risk i’m willing to take.

    4. LE

      scientists and researchers co-operatedMy typical caveat – this is not my area of knowledge at all. But I do know that people are people and as such have well observed motivations for how they operate. Most people (not all but most) prefer to get some credit for what they busted their ass on. [1] As such, the lack of sharing or cooperation seems more “normal” than abnormal. Same way that a guy dating a girl is not going to say to the girl “hey my friend Tom is really better for you than I am so I will let you date him”. Of course he might though if he would rather date Jane instead.[1] Where “busted” does not mean something simple that didn’t take much effort that is easily given away but something that one has worked on for years.

    5. sigmaalgebra

      Ah, watch some Eric Lander lectures!

      1. William Mougayar

        thanks. will do.

    6. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      You are being mean….They are also clueless as you and me are…. on what is happening … and are not making purposefully 50-divergent views. Out of that 50 divergent views most of them are genuinely believe what they believe (probability science) is correct …but there are always people who are “making hay while the sun shines”

      1. William Mougayar

        I’m sure they do have great intention, but also many have selfish interests. All we’re saying is co-operate more, as a basis.

    7. panterosa,

      Silo-ism is a serious disease, affecting many industries. Leads to my pet peeve of unnecessary duplication. Sadly, duplications mean lees time for important things – so many missed opportunities – a huge peeve of mine. A sad chain of events, aggravated by information overload these days. This gets back to your favorite topic – signal vs noise.

    8. Matt A. Myers

      The current funding cycle of being the discoverer of results of research, which builds your name, your universities name, etc. is mostly what has slowed this.If you de-centralize science, at least the funding sources of it, it will take off – though you still need verification and research verified by many parties – otherwise you could have a snowball of the worst kind of scams for prestige.This is where crowdfunding of science and research is important.Unfortunately, if it’s not curated or reviewed by peers – even though consumers mean-well – it might allow too much money to be wasted by being given to researchers who are good at marketing, but are selling to a group of consumers who don’t have the scientific knowledge to know what is being said is valid or what pitfalls may exist. The unique and nuanced knowledge needed increases the deeper you get into the subject.

    9. jason wright

      science is just like religion – many churches and even more factions.the problem is that if only one answer is right all the other answers must be wrong, and link that thought to research funding and it becomes very political.

      1. kidmercury

        science is the worst religion. at least the other religions acknowledge the importance of faith. science is naive enough to consider faith irrelevant.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          there is no faith in science …what r u talking about?

          1. jason wright

            a creator

          2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            You are just bullying around …..what creator?.and what faith? …. there is nothing beyond ….”repeat-ability-reproduce-ability-irrespective-of-the-person-performing-it.”If you can do it for the first time ….you are the creator ….whoelse do you need…. be a creator.there were/are so many creators …. @ every Planck time.

          3. jason wright

            time to bring this exchange to an end. i’m not bullying anyone thank you very much.

          4. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            did I make any sense…. sorry for using the wrong word….I assume you are young and I encourage Bullying..

          5. kidmercury

            science is nothing but faith. scientists just lack the intellectual honesty to admit it.

          6. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            “Science is nothing but faith”…Who taught you that ?Bring that being… I will bury THAT six-feet under my left foot.

          7. kidmercury

            science is widely disputed. some scientists say evolution is how humanity was created, other scientists point to the existence of a unified source field form which all life springs. some scientists say eating meat is good for you, other scientists say it is bad for you. all a matter of faith. unlike religion though they don’t want to admit it and would rather pretend that htey know everything.

          8. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            There is/was/will never be a dispute in science …as long as you can prove something (what ever crap it may be…even facebook monetization …) which is”repeatable reproducible irrespective of the person-performing-it.”

          9. kidmercury

            people can reproduce cures for cancer, and the connection between animal protein consumption and cancer, and the connection between the consumption of environmental toxins and neurodegenerative diseases. plenty of folks will dismiss it though, as we see in this thread.meanwhile stuff that can never be reproduced, the collapse of building 7 on 9/11, are taken as scientific fact and while honest, diligent, good-looking researchers like myself are attacked for making this observation.

        2. jason wright

          i don’t think so. i believe many scientists are searching for god through their work, even though many deny it publicly.

          1. kidmercury

            i don’t know if i’d say many, though there are some for sure. i think most still succumb to standard herd psychology.

      2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        you are so wrong @jasonpwright:disqusThere is only one and only only ONE-RIGHT and science is the only platform which acknowledges that and says….”repeat-ability-reproduce-ability-irrespective-of-the-person-performing-it.”empirical and probability science is different..

        1. jason wright

          “There is only one and only only ONE-RIGHT…”not understanding you here.

          1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            what you don’t understand there?

    10. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      I can tell you that i life science, researchers do not co-operate together and largely work in silos. In fact they are so obsessed with getting scooped that they go to great length to no co-operate. A big part of this is that academic researchers are judged solely on their publication record and most covet being published in one of the major journals (usually science, cell, nature) – This leads to the ‘publish or perish’ model which most academic subscribe to. This is really obvious at scientific meetings where usually the results shown are from published work that sometimes go back 2 or 3 years!! So there are big problems in the way science is conducted and will require structural changes from the funding agencies and the universities before researchers become truly collaborative.

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s what I thought, sadly.

  3. aweissman

    The Center for Open Science is an interesting organization. They have a product – the Open Science Framework – which the best way to think of it is a github for scientific processes, research, etc. https://openscienceframewor

    1. Richard

      We need to break/modify the “contractual” relationship that universities have over its PhDs and their R&D. Universities could double or triple its PHD enrollment using an open market model. A new academic focused “exchange” could once again make basic R&D* a viable path for entrepreneurs and even make the rates of return for funders of basic R&D appealing enough to usher in a new era of this important work. *Note that R&D spending has three main categories: basic research (advancing knowledge and understanding), applied research (deciding which discoveries can become products) and development research (developing these discovered technologies into actual products).

      1. John Rhoads

        Most uni’s have a model where they take ~ 20% of licensing revenues that slowly decline over time, depending on industry. I don’t think its the financial models that are broken.

        1. Richard

          this is the old model

      2. ShanaC

        one problem – phds aren’t getting jobs doing r&d

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          That is for sure…few of my very very great pharma phd’s are jobless now and are cursing themselves for not learning “key board” technology :-)this guy/gal is too much of bla…bla…bla…no job for ya.

        2. Richard

          yep, the new model will change this. ill fill in the blanks when i have time.

          1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam


      3. sigmaalgebra

        > Universities could double or triple its PHDenrollment using an open market model and this typeof exchange could once again make basic R&D a viablepath for entrepreneurs and improve the rates ofreturn on basic R&D within industry.There are some serious difficulties here:First, it has long been the case in better USresearch universities that in their Ph.D. programsthey had more positions and financial support forstudents than they had well qualified applicants.So, there’s a shortage of good applicants.Second, one reason for a shortage of good applicantsis that the completion rates in Ph.D. programs arelow. For a student, the odds of getting a Ph.D. inreasonable time and, then, a related good job offerare not good.Third, the competition for funding research forPh.D. holders is severe. E.g., getting asignificant grant is not easy. Typically a goodresearch university wants each research facultymember to have about $500,000 in external researchsupport per year. Then the university takes maybe60% of that for ‘overhead’ — got to support theEnglish department, the theater group and the stringquartet, subsidize the faculty club, keep thedecorative fountain running, build a bell tower withGothic architecture (you, know, with those slots ontop used to send fire down on the attackers below),have a chauffeured limousine for the president, payfor a bronze statue of the previous president, andmow the grass. So, now the $500,000 is now $200,000from which want to take some for the professor’ssalary, some for travel and equipment, etc. But the$500,000 is not so easy to get.Fourth, maybe there are a few fields, or maybe justtopics, maybe heavily in biomedical research ormaterials science, where academic research doesconnect fairly well with business. Otherwise theconnection is like crossing the Grand Canyon.Really now the main opportunity to bring research tobusiness is just for a person able to do research todo a startup, likely in ‘information technology’ toexploit Moore’s law, etc., pick a suitable practicalproblem, do the research (both fundamental andapplied), do the ‘development’, and get revenue andearnings. E.g., for a project in informationtechnology, due to Moore’s law, etc., the mainresearch facilities can be just a room, chair,table, computer worth less than $2000, a lot ofsoftware, not very expensive or just free, and agood Internet connection, and this situation blowsthe doors off nearly any other field of researchthat might connect with business.But the researcher will have to ‘bootstrap’ the worklikely through revenue and maybe just through niceearnings because the investment community ininformation technology will flatly refuse toevaluate any such project before the revenue.Indeed, for at least nearly all such investors,revenue from a project with a solid foundation(advantage, barrier to entry, defensible technology)will be much less attractive than the same revenuefrom just another social, mobile, local, sharingapp. That is, investors bitterly hate anythinghaving to do with research.That is, when the researcher was a graduate student,all of his proposals and research results quicklyreceived quite thorough, competent reviews; roughlysimilarly for his research papers submitted forpublication and for his grant applications to NSF.But for the investor community, any connection withresearch, even if it is already done and implementedin software, is a serious disqualification.Business still wants to be organized much like afactory of Henry Ford where the supervisor knowsmore than the subordinate, and the subordinate isthere to apply muscle to the ideas of thesupervisor. So, in business, a researcher has toapply muscle to the work of a supervisor or judgmentof a board where the supervisor and board knownothing about research.So far the yachts of researchers who, in informationtechnology, did some fundamental and appliedresearch and the associated development aredifficult to find. Likely until there are many suchyachts, the interest of business in ‘research’ willremain at best meager. That situation may beregarded as an obstacle or, on its flip side, a’green field’ opportunity.One lesson that is taught well just daily in aresearch university is how to work effectively withideas that are new. Nearly all of business has atough time here. So does nearly all of venturecapital. Maybe being able to work effectively withnew ideas would be part of a path to high success inventure capital. Maybe!

        1. Richard

          The shortage exists because of the legacy system. We could have people in their 40s going back to get their PHDs if the model were changed.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            A person who goes for a Ph.D. in their 40smight get their Ph.D. at 50+ at which timein US business they are absolutely, positivelypermanently unemployable at anything aboveminimum wage unless they take their their resume and lie about the lost years.A Ph.D. will do somewhat less for their resumethan a prominent felony conviction, literally.Similarly for getting VC funding.In US society, a Ph.D. is ‘out of it’, out of the flow, an outsider, different, a freak,easily resented, feared, and rejected by the rest of society. They might get hiredas a lecturer for about $2000 a course.Else they can be an entrepreneur.

      4. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        doubling the PhD enrolment rate would be a disaster unless there are really jobs available out there for these PhDs. The biggest issue for PhD graduates at least in life science is the increasingly difficult task of finding a job in academic or industry. I know plenty of highly qualified PhDs who have completed successful Post docs for 4 to 5 years and still struggle to find good jobs or any jobs. Another point is that PhD graduates are also spending long time doing a post-doc which is now averaging around 6-7 years before they even have a shot at a job. It is important to note that post-doc positions usually offer low salaries and no benefits which becomes increasingly problematic as these individuals enter their late 30s or early 40s!Again, I am describing the reality for the life science sector as this is the one that I am familiar with.

    2. ShanaC

      what’s thier background – isn’t science supposedly open in the first place?

      1. panterosa,

        you would think it should be

    3. sigmaalgebra

      More should be better, and maybe ‘a GitHub forscience research’ would be cheap enough to do tohave good ROI, but there have long already beenseminars, lecture notes, conferences, journals,texts, some graduate courses that really are justintroductions to research by an expert in a field,and for some years now there have been PDF filesavailable on the Internet. E.g., if want to knowwhat some famous research professor is doing in hisresearch, typically just go to his Web page anddownload some of his PDF files.E.g., in the fields that make heavy use ofmathematics, D. Knuth’s mathematical word whackingsoftware TeX was eagerly embraced as theunchallenged, international standard, and conversionof the output to PDF is routine. Yes, to be moreclear, LaTeX is the same but, essentially, with moremacros and much larger documentation. I’ve stayedwith just the original TeX (which has long beensolidly frozen and essentially totally bug free).TeX has enormously helped get mathematical contentbeautifully formatted and widely distributed, e.g.,via PDF. It’s been a revolution; took a grimsituation (commonly the word processing was morework than the research) and made the word processingnext to trivial — HUGE progress.My experience in some of high end academics, e.g.,applied math and engineering, was that mostly theactive researchers knew, in their fields, what themain problems were, who was making progress, androughly via what approaches. E.g., G. Perlman wasable to solve the PoincarΓ© conjecture quite isolatedin Russia which suggests that the communications hehad were sufficient.I don’t have first hand knowledge of communicationsin biomedical research, but my impression watchingEric Lander lectures is that there’s lots ofcommunications in those fields also.For replicating biomedical research results, maybeone bottleneck is getting NIH funding. Myimpression with NIH, and my experience with NSF, isthat the problem sponsors at those two fundingorganizations do quite well: They are well informedin their areas and make excellent use of some of thebest experts as project proposal reviewers. If NIHand/or NSF make silly decisions too often, thenleading researchers will speak out, and powerfulpeople will listen. In simple terms, Congress wantsthe NSF for US national security and the NIH to keepthem alive!

  4. JamesHRH

    Super cool.

  5. TomKaz

    Is this a variant of oDesk for researchers?

    1. aweissman

      not particularly, more of a marketplace where researchers can find expertise to conduct their experiments

  6. SubstrateUndertow

    “Science Exchange” what a great idea !Accelerating scientific knowledge by amplifying the the resonant-intervel, the exchange MOJO at the heart of all organic emergencePROXIMITY – SYMMETRY – SYNCHRONICITY

    1. Tess Mayall

      Thanks! I work for Science Exchange. I couldn’t be happier to part of the acceleration of scientific knowledge. Love your take on it πŸ™‚

  7. JLM

    .I am convinced that much medical research has already solved “the” problem but part of the solution is held in many different places and has to be combined in order to create a workable whole that can actually be distributed to the masses.As a member of the masses…….JLM.

    1. Cam MacRae

      I wouldn’t hold my breath.Of course everyone wants to cure cancer. However, in academia you publish or you perish. But you can’t just publish anywhere, you have to publish in the right journals. And the right journals only publish novel research.It’s something of an understatement that a cure for cancer would be novel, but combining that workable whole seems a lot more time-consuming than developing some new technique to kill off a petri dish worth of cells; I reckon you’d perish quite some time before you published.Perhaps I’m a cynical bastard.

      1. JLM

        .Your cynicism is well founded as many researchers are reluctant to have widespread dissemination of their projects for fear of losing or otherwise discovering their lack of novelty.I have personally stumbled on two very similar projects when I was approached for funding. The work which had to do with destroying the blood supply to meaningful sized tumors was very important and did, in fact, advance the cause but it was duplicative.JLM.

        1. leigh

          did you fund either of them?

          1. JLM

            .Yes. One of them and the research result was huge.It was cutting edge work on killing the blood supply to large tumors and while it has been leapfrogged by subsequent research it proved a very important foundation and now common place strategy in dealing with serious tumors.You have now completely tapped out my medical knowledge but when you cut off the blood supply to tumors, they die.JLM.

          2. leigh

            I’ve always wondered if chemo therapy will be considered the blood letting of this century. My cousin Alan and his wife are obsessively against Chemo and have started to brainwash me. But things like cutting off blood supply or enhancing cancer fighting cells etc. seem like much more viable directions.

          3. LE

            My cousin Alan and his wife are obsessively against Chemo and have started to brainwash me.Is there anything unique in their training, education or profession that makes their opinion worth listening to? But things like cutting off blood supply or enhancing cancer fighting cells etc. seem like much more viable directions.What are you basing that on?

          4. leigh

            well my father who was a Doctor and had cancer would tell you there was nothing in their training or education that should have you listen.That being said, it was all the people with training and education who told people blood letting was going to save people.My own opinion is just that. An opinion. Maybe even more so a feeling. I have come to it by watching the medical process of cancer with friends and family and then by reading reading and more reading. I have a keen personal interest in the area (I work with two organizations pro bono on Ovarian, breast and hereditary cancers and have BRCA in my family).

          5. LE

            That being said, it was all the people with training and education who told people blood letting was going to save people.I joke about that all the time with my wife. I say “guess what the white men say we should do now!”.That said the white men do get it right quite often. (Probably more often than VC’s get “it” right.)In any case the system was different in terms of not having evidence based medicine back in blood letting days (when barbers were doctors or something like that). Of course to me many times anecdotes are just a small scale study in a way. If you have 50 patients and tell them to eat green beans and it lowers their blood pressure then go with it, right?

          6. ShanaC

            depends on the chemo. I seriously think narrow targeted chemo will change the face of cancer into manageable, but there are very few chemo drugs in that category.

          7. Richard

            Chemo while not perfect saved my life. Anvanced Testicular Cancer is one of the cancers that truly legitimizes this aporoach.

        2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          That is 100% not true @JLM:disqus.They may be secretive and competitive until they get the perfect result and funded….once they get the results they openly publish it.

          1. JLM

            .Perhaps we are saying the exact same thing.Research initiatives are very, very secretive at the outset and during the research.I would concede completely that they are published and thus exposed to the public and profession.What does continue is a lack of cooperation among researchers working on the same problems.JLM.

          2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            What everyone forgets is that researchers are also human beings and make their living on “What they find”….of-course there will be secrecy until the breaking point.

        3. ShanaC

          as someone willing to be tested on – this is frustrating….

      2. ShanaC

        there are multiple cancers a)cancer research is super disorganized – particularly for high profile cancers

        1. Cam MacRae

          I’m quite aware of that.Do you think it is “disorganised” because it is competitive? (Grants / publications / patents.)?

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            Maybe the whole medical research stack needs to be reconfigured ?Especially funding and patent relationships.Patients ultimately pay for all of it in the end !Maybe universal perscription-dispensing and procedure-delivery fees that = total global pharmaceutical research expenditures, all redirected toward non-proprietary, non-profit research institutions.Leave the drug production process to the competitive for profit corporations.

          2. ShanaC

            no. the funding cycles and sources promote disorganization and study repetition and do not pormote creativity.Just some background:I care a lot about the subject because I’m already high risk for one of the big cancers that affect women (breast cancer.)Within NYC there are a ton research hospitals.All of the studies in this area I qualify for are usually the following1) Genetic testing – I’m passing on this for now because based on internal family discussions of other relative’s results makes me think that genetic testing won’t tell me anything.2) Tamoxifen dosing in noncancerous women – this is already approved. Most of the studies done are about dosing, and I am not a good candidate since I have no kids.These studies are done in multiple hospitals in NYC within 30 minutes of each other…in different variations…at different times of the year.Meanwhile, beyond not eating lots of soy derivatives (and this one is obvious as many variations of bc grow due to estrogen in the female body, which is the whole point of tamoxifen….), there aren’t any studies that I can participate in that measure actual risk reduction.And if one came up, it wouldn’t be funded because the grants are written on the sustainability of the research – so already researched things are likely to get further funding.Pink Ribbon Inc discusses this in depth. Ultra new ideas aren’t getting funded.

      3. leigh

        yes this is exactly the point and the problem. those medical journals have become impacted by having the right headlines vs. the right research. wonder how open science might impact that for the better?

        1. Cam MacRae

          I’m really not sure. Ignoring the fact those journals are usually behind a paywall, you could argue that the science is already “open”.

          1. leigh

            oh i don’t know about that. science and research is a machine that has it’s own biases about who and how things get funded.

        2. LE

          Yeah but how can you deny the positive of what the current “studio system” of medical research has brought about? It’s a filter for sure and it may not be perfect (like drug research). But it has solved problems and brought about great benefits.

          1. leigh

            Sure but i can argue that the old Hollywood funding system produced a lot of great films. Doesn’t mean it is still relevant, is the best way forward or hasn’t filtered out even better films in the process.

        3. William Mougayar

          100%. Pick any unsolved health topic, and the medical “research” headlines will add-up to controversial and conflicted statements.

      4. LE

        Watch this, last week’s 60 Minutes report about a 15 year old:…I’m totally cynical about this. IIRC he was rejected by 199 researchers but one went for his idea and thought it was worth a try. Now he is being trotted around like the 2nd coming of medicine all over the place talking at TED, to research groups of primarily old distinquished white men, and has been to the White House 5 times. His parents don’t appear to be anyone special either (they don’t even say what his father or mother do for a living.)The “to be sure” that is stressed over and over (even by the 1 out of 200 guys that decided to give him a shot) was that there is a long road to what he thinks will be a marker being actually in wide spread use (it’s for Pancreatic cancer).It’s a great human interest and entertainment story Horacio Alger or whatever. Fact is there are people doing things like this everyday that would never get any attention. Because they aren’t 15 years old.

      5. sigmaalgebra

        > And the right journals only publish novel research.The usual criteria are “new, correct, and significant”.The decision on a submitted paper is made frominput from the reviewers and editor by the editorin chief.Reviewers are selected based on their relevantresearch results. Editors are selected fromgood reviewers. Editors in chief are selectedfrom good editors. Editors in chief commonlyhold chaired professorships, have excellentresearch records, have done well directingresearch of Ph.D. students, and have a lot of gray hair. In simple terms, they’ve got “theright stuff”.What constitutes good work, no doubt especiallyfor progress on cancer, is likely taken withfull seriousness and high competence. E.g.,watch some of the Eric Lander lectures in his courses, etc. at MIT: There’s no jokeabout what the heck he’s working on andis trying to get the students in the class towork on — find real progress to cure cancer.And see the great joy he has explaining some of the progress in the past, seeminglyquite small points which, however, provedto be major progress and, yes, were fullyappreciated by the Nobel committee.My experience in high end academicresearch is that good research is well appreciated right away. E.g.,in graduate school when I found a publishable result, news spread inthe department right away, and myfavorite professor stopped me inthe hall and said, “I heard aboutyour result. It says that …” andhe mentioned a nice application.We’re not talking MBA BizDev people on Sand Hill Road here, guys!

        1. Cam MacRae

          You’re right, but you’ve grabbed the wrong end of the stick.

    2. William Mougayar

      yup. that’s exactly what i was saying too.

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      We can bet our life’s on that !Here in BC-Canada that dynamic is playing out at the healthcare execution level never mind the medical research level.I love the Canadian healthcare system but its biggest failing, besides being slightly under funded at 11.4% GDP, is the lack of a competent coherent information systems at every level, least here in BC.

  8. Farhan Lalji

    Why limit to researchers? We’re seeing some great things happen with scientists open up to other communities, this recent news about gamers helping resolve some of the puzzles with HIV related enzymes comes to mind –

    1. aweissman

      I would hope this is a just a start. That’s a great example

      1. Farhan Lalji

        Sounds good. Really like the ambition.

    2. panterosa,

      Interesting you mention gaming and science. I am making science games, and deeply believe they create creative puzzle solving skills.

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Very cool !When reading something well over my head, I still try to salvage some toehold of superficial working characterization for potential future reuse. Sometime that struggle to internalize something just beyond ones reach leads to a cross disciplinary tunnelling-analogue thought, the conceptual version of a tunnelling anomaly.Those cross threaded machinations are most likely irrelevance idiocies on my part.Still sometimes one wonders if that tunnelling-analogue symmetry would be good brainstorming material for those with the proper scientific depth of topic?If only there where some way to collect and filter such topicaly related, tunnelling-analogue, idiotic-machinations into the right hopper for reviewing by the appropriate scientific minds.WHY YOU ASK?We have all been there, brain storming, when what seem on the surface to be the silliest of conceptual symmetries sparks an insightful realignment of conceptual perspective in the mind of another participant.It strikes me that scientific problem solving does not offer many opportunities for such serendipitous cross-disciplinary brainstorming inputs.

  9. leigh

    for anyone who hasn’t seen this, Joi Ito has a great presentation on open networks that’s worth a listen:

    1. fredwilson

      I am a big Joi fan

    2. jason wright

      new to me. thanks.i’m sure he makes a lot of middle class professionals very nervous inside their institutional fortresses. he’s a post modern commun(e)ist. right on Joi.

  10. bsoist

    It does matter. I met with a team of programmers at CBMi @ CHOP ( in the Spring and I was thrilled to learn that they are sharing the research software they’re building. if Isaac Newton had tried to keep the laws of motion to himself.

  11. William Mougayar

    This reminds me of Patients Like Me, but it’s Scientists Like Me.

  12. Tracey Jackson

    I think the more people searching for cures outside the establishment the better. We need to fund more scientists who are not tied to major pharmaceutical companies, or large institutions with heavy agendas who are reluctant to move in new directions that they have not paved because it would make them look bad.If you look at the war on cancer, we are not winning it. We have won small battles, but the war rages. Some of the great findings in history were mistakes in a lab; people working on their own without restrictions. It sounds like this will allow for controlled serendipity that will hopefully open some locked doors!

    1. awaldstein

      I’m with you.

    2. William Mougayar

      100%. Research looks like a big black box currently.

    3. fredwilson

      I am with you Tracey. Let a thousand flowers bloom

      1. ShanaC

        noooo. You really should watch pink ribbon inc. There is already too much study duplication.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          when there is too much money there will be too many duplication … like our “Social startups”. πŸ™‚

    4. panterosa,

      I put in a comment above on Silo-ism as big problem.Get out of the building, and start thinking as the big we. Not us vs them in race to find cures etc.

    5. Richard

      we need a new model for university research.

  13. panterosa,

    I am looking to crowd fund some graphics for animal data with the creator of OneZoom. It would be great to crowd source through Science exchange, and we’d like to crowd fund it as well. I mentioned this idea to Fred as something I was chewing over how to do.To make some standard sparkline type of graphics and data viz that kids can understand easily, help place their understanding of animal life. This is key for kids before they can read, which coincides exactly with when they are most excited about animals.I think about the first emperor of China standardizing roads, by standardizing carts. I am not alone in thinking much of science is dense verbiage much better served by images. STEM to STEAM at RISD is pushing for this. Standardizing data comparisons visually would help a lot. It’s the next step past the new periodic style table for zoology and botany which I created and the PhD’s love. (Releasing soon, in a game).This led to another thought worth mentioning here on what’s wrong with testing in education (among many things). Why don’t we have more standards around learning basic structures of learning, like the periodic table, code etc as the teaching base. From there can come much creative divergent thinking. Instead we try to achieve convergent knowledge base, and end up with frustrated kids and less creative thinkers.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      “new periodic style table for zoology and botany”Can we lay our eyes on that somewhere?”Instead we try to achieve convergent knowledge base, and end up with frustrated kids and less creative thinkers”How are you visualizing the difference between divergent vs convergent knowledge bases ?

      1. panterosa,

        It’s in pre-launch and comes out after our Kickstarter campaign finishes in a few weeks. You can DM me on twitter to get a sneak peak.I’m rushing now or I’d answer more fully on the divergent and convergent, makes more sense after seeing the icons.

  14. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    My 2-paiseFirst and formost of … today’s science is not the science we knew … 30-50 years back.Earlier science meant math and physics … anyone can reproduce and calculate to the extent of pico and femto and micro levels…today’s science is more of emperical …when probability comes seriously into science there is a lot of room for …you know what i am saying ….lies, damn lies and probabilty.When someone says we do service for reproducability then you can guess how much of accuracy is there in the whole ‘so called’ science.I saw the website yesterday and was wondering why now science is only biological science….most of the services on that website were related to bio…and kid seems to be partially right … most of what can be done is already done.We were in the current state of”What ever possible has already been done” in late 1800 and early 1900and there came Quantum Mechanics to break that …today’s science is waiting for the next De broglie, Schodinger and a Max Planck….AND an Enstein to support it (Enstein never could beleive or accept but has to support because experiments proved them right).and BTWScience has always been open and the first ever known open-forum on this third-rock-from-the-sun….except for some military funded destructive technologies and science.Like any other field there is rivelary and competition….but always been open.

  15. William Mougayar

    It’s Science day. This seems related:Mode Lands A $550K Seed Round Led By David Sacks To Bring Online Collaboration To Data Science…

  16. Dave W Baldwin

    Love it! Glad you’re doing cancer, if I understand right, there is cross channeling at a growing rate. Not to diss the kid, but we are scratching surface in this arena, including heart, neuro and so on as we push further in nano/femto tech and truly make strides in ML.

    1. Tess Mayall

      Thanks Dave! We (Science Exchange) would love to make progress in the other arenas as well.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Though the pharm industry is powerful, all parallel highways eventually merge. Heck, I didn’t even mention imaging πŸ˜‰

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          +1 for that word “imaging” in the whole discussion πŸ™‚

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            It was fun doing a spur of the moment explanation of femtophotography to 6th graders. Didn’t have any overhead stuff, so used cartoon frames (stick figures) to show femto second. They got it.

          2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            Yes…anything our eye cannot catch can be extended to micro and femto seconds….and yes ….it is really a great experience to make students understand.The whole thread was talking about illness and pharma and I was excited to see the word “imaging”

  17. Matt A. Myers

    I made a comment on HN relating to this announcement and other conversation that ensued. It was short, simple.Bulk Science. I like it.[referencing bulk discounts for supplies which brought down certain costs]

  18. pointsnfigures

    This is great. Except I am wary. A lot of science is an agenda. As long as it’s true hypothesis testing with peer review, and give and take-this is great. As long as it’s not rent seeking government grant science, it’s great. University of Chicago type collegial science with discussion from all sides is a step forward.

  19. sigmaalgebra

    Okay, okay, okay, before Fred makes me look like afool by making $1+ billion plus where I saw noopportunity, with a dinner of beef ravioli with somemozzarella cheese and some good Pecorino Romano, butwithout some nice Chianti and Asti I have in thebasement, I thought again.Let’s see:(1) Academic research is, in total around the world,big business.(2) Publishing is crucial, and so are or would,could, should be other forms of research worksharing.(3) Recently, e.g., with the sad case of AaronSwartz, there have been lots of cries of agony,pain, and suffering about the costs of academicjournals, on-line ‘pay-walls’, etc.(4) The Internet is a big thing and, in spite of theNSA, etc., not going away soon.So, generally we have to suspect that a lot inacademic ‘work sharing’, in particular the printedjournals and monographs (small volume books withadvanced content), should be ready for ‘disruption’.And, with the current revenue to academicpublishers, e.g., from academic research libraries,there’s some money there.Also a big lesson so far on the Internet is thatjust because some information is available now doesnot mean that can’t make significant progress, do alot of disruption, and build a good businessimproving the means of access.So, maybe the long term goal of Science Exchange isto ‘disrupt’ much of current publishing,dissemination, and sharing of academic work, reducecosts, improve access and sharing, reduce timedelays, etc. and charge, but much less than now, andstill get good ROI.So, yes, there are means of sharing researchresults, etc. now, but that does not mean that can’tdo significantly better.And for this disruption, maybe there could be somealternatives to the current academic research reviewprocess.And with ‘the innovator’s dilemma’, what currentlylarge academic publisher will want to ‘disrupt’their own business?Maybe.

  20. benberkowitz

    Reading this as well

  21. benberkowitz

    Reading posts like this as well as this post on biohacking on aljaz this am:… makes one wonder if cancer will meet its end in a teenager’s basement.

  22. riemannzeta

    Woah. This is very cool. How on earth did they resolve the IP issues with the universities that are participating? I would really like to know more about that angle of this.Do they have any industry partners?This seems so obviously to be the future of tech transfer to me.