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NNCO Take: Engaging Citizen Scientists to Advance Biomedical Research

Posted Jul 17, 2017 by Lisa M. Boyd
Category: National

On Friday, July 14th the National Network Coordinating Office (NNCO) staff attended "Engaging Citizen Scientists to Advance Biomedical Research:  A Symposium on Biomedical Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing" held on the Bethesda campus. What is Citizen Science? Citizen Science is a collaborative approach to research involving the public, not just as subjects of research but as direct partners in the research process itself. Citizen scientists investigate, share best practices and collaborate with other agencies and groups promoting citizen science in other fields. It is engaged community research with a cyclical approach - Create, Connect, Collaborate.

The Symposium showcased citizen science and crowdsourcing projects and the shared experiences of both researchers and citizen scientists. Some of the projects presented were EyeWire, a "brain" game with players from around the world and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project that informs and connects cancer patients and survivors with treatments, resources and each other through social media channels. Barcode Long Island is an NIH K-12 Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) project. The project involved research performed by New York high school students on the marine life that dwells within their local environment. Sample organisms gathered by the students are submitted for genetic coding and inclusion in NCBI's GenBank. The project was presented by a soon to be 12th grade citizen scientist.

Concluding the Symposium was a panel discussion on "Busting Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Myths." Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the General Services Administration presented their respective agencies approach to Citizen Science and crowdsourcing. NIH has a Citizen Science Working Group encouraging the implementation and funding of Citizen Science projects across NIH as well as developing metrics to measure the project's success.

Participants in the Symposium, including the NNCO staff, were an enthusiastic group, dedicated to engaging the community as active partners in biomedical research.

Learn More: https://www.citizenscience.gov/

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