by Michele Banks in New Trends on Tuesday 30 October 2012

Lots of people take meth and other amphetamines, and quite a few know how to make them. But oddly enough, nobody knows exactly how amphetamines work. This gap in knowledge makes it hard to understand and treat the large and growing problem of amphetamine addiction. The scarcity and slow pace of funding for research compounds the difficulty.

Dr. Ethan Perlstein of Princeton University came up with a novel project designed to try to kill two birds with the one stone. He calls it Crowdsourcing Discovery, and he is using all the media channels he can – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, blogging, Youtube – to take his idea to a large audience.

On his RocketHub crowdfunding page, Perlstein lays out the idea: ‘For this project, we’ll determine where both amphetamine and methamphetamine accumulate within the brain cells of lab mice treated with those drugs. That’s Step One in a gradual process of determining how these drugs actually work in a complex organism like us’. All data from the experiments will be uploaded to the data-sharing site Figshare, and the results will be published in an open-access journal, as well as posted to the project website. Donors to the project can claim rewards such as beers with the researchers in New York and invitations to brainstorming sessions. (No, you don’t get any meth.) Perlstein and his colleagues are hopeful that people will be intrigued and inspired by this unique opportunity to be a part of cutting-edge scientific research.