“Break the rules, but first break the rulers.” – Sean Daley
Fixing Science Through Crowdfunding
The funding model for scientific research is broken. Our team is doing everything in our power to unbreak it, but we need your help.
Let me explain.
People think science works like this: come up with idea, do experiment, then analyze and publish results. It actually works like this: search for grant, come up with question related to that grant calling, and then wait 6-12 months to hear if you got it or not. If you got the grant, do the experiment. If not, repeat the next year or abandon idea. This makes science excruciatingly slow, and means giant government agencies or private (for profit) companies (not scientists) determine the direction of study. For example, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is the organization that determines who receives a piece of the $30.1 billion dollars our government allocates annually for medical research that “enhances health, lengthens life, and reduces illness and disability”. They recently announced, MoTrPAC, a 6 year $170 million project dedicated to the study of “Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity, Genomics, Epigenomics, and Transcriptomics”. Exactly ZERO of that $170,000,000 will be given to the study of human performance, alternative medicines, elite athletes, sport, or aging optimization. The study of disease is critically important, but so is the study of human THRIVING and individual exceptionalism,which the government is clearly not willing to pay for.
I’m not interested in simply “avoiding sickness” or hanging out slightly above the line of independence (Figure 1). I know you aren’t either. We’re focused on raising the requirements of “being healthy,” and CRUSHING aging like these guys. People are certainly interested in the answers, and I know hundreds of scientists that would LOVE to study these questions if given the chance.
So why aren’t we studying the optimization end of our health spectrum? Because a sustainable, unbiased funding source doesn’t exist…until now.
While I’m frustrated with the NIH decision to only fund disease treatment and management, I don’t necessarily disagree with the approach. Millions of people are suffering from horrible diseases, and it takes monumental resources to stop/reduce that. Some private health companies are doing amazing research, but they own the results, and aren’t likely to share them with the public (which is understandable). Supplement companies or big pharma? They spend a ton of money on these questions, but we know their limitations, biases, agendas, so that’s not a solution either. We need a new option. But you don’t disrupt major systems or succeed with a revolution by complaining or signing petitions. You do it by showing up with something exponentially better; Uber, Wikipedia, personal computers, Automobiles, or in this case, www.Experiment.com.
The Scientific Revolution: The Future of Science Funding
The Age of Reason (aka “the Enlightenment”) happened in the 18th century. The Industrial Revolution followed about 100 years later. We’re on the verge of the Scientific Revolution. For the 1st time in history we’ve got the chance to permanently change how science is funded. This is critical because it gives control to the public and/or scientists, and dramatically speeds up the process. Let’s make science a democracy, not a dictatorship.
1. Control of Science
- By supporting this crowdfunding science model, you pay for it, so you control it. No biased research from shady funding agencies. No conflict of interest. No agenda.
2. Empower the Scientist!
- Let the experts determine what needs studying, not the government or companies that will make a profit off the findings.
- Scientists doing important, wide-reaching topics can raise huge sums of money and quickly. Like Peter Diamandis said, “want to make a billion $$, solve a billion person problem”.
- Scientists interested in studying more niche topics can perform their research through support from their target community. Imagine a scientist like this wants to compare which powerlifting training program enhances back squat strength the most. The scientist would have 0% chance of getting traditional funding, which is a huge reason why “sports science” is decades behind practitioners. With crowdfunding, the powerlifting community can effortlessly fund it themselves!
3. Make Science Exponentially Faster
Remember the funding model I explained earlier? This is really how it works:
- Spend 3-5 years building name and lab reputation, surviving off small or mostly internal grants (i.e., awarded by University to help scientist get started)
- Spend ~8-12 months working on grant application
- October-December: Produce preliminary data
- Jan-Feb: Write the grant
- March: Process university “grant office” paperwork
- April: Submit grant
- August: Hear back about if grant got funded or not
- Which is actually HIGHLY unlikely because:
- The scientist is not doing diabetes, obesity, aging, etc. research
- One of the reviewers may reject it because it conflicts or challenges their research (which would cost them funding in the future)
- The scientist is not >50 years old.
- <2% 5% of NIH RO1 grants are awarded to people younger than 35 years old, which is down from ~21% in 1980 (4)
- Which is actually HIGHLY unlikely because:
- September: In the unlikely event the grant is funded, wait 2-6 weeks for $ to be released
- Develop idea
- Write a few hundred words and make a blog post (2 weeks)
- Run fundraising campaign (21-45 days)
- Get check (2 days after campaign finished)
- Funds come directly from community to the scientist
How You Can Help
Whether you believe in our current study or not, your support today lets myself (personally), my colleagues and University, and the entire scientific world know you are ready for revolution. The new model is here, and it’s viable, but we all need to be in this together. Whether it’s $5 or $5,000, every last dollar helps. Current contributors include gym owners, performance and health coaches, professional athletes, UFC fighters, college students, scientists/researchers, entrepreneurs, podcast hosts, medical professionals (physicians, physical therapists, nurses), and even large health facilities like the Ash Center. The majority of contributors, though, are ordinary people. The more people that contribute, the more pressure we put on the system. But we’ve got less than 3 weeks less to make it happen. If we don’t reach complete funding, we get nothing; meaning we’ll be forced to abandon the project.
Our Study: Muscle Science
While skeletal muscle is typically associated with aesthetics and sport performance, we now know it plays a critical role in anti-gravity and posture, heat generation, movement, being an amino acids reserve, and regulating our immune, endocrine (hormone), and fat storing systems. Because of all these functions, recent studies now show the strongest predictors of mortality (aka when you will die) are leg strength and power (1, 5), leg size (1), lean body mass (6), and VO2max (2, 3, 7, 8), NOT things like Cholesterol (9). Realizing this, we believe for the sake of both sport performance and maximal health, we need to study the people who are best in the world at growing muscle and being fast, strong, and powerful. But we need to do it at the cellular and molecular level (Figure 2) so we understand the mechanisms behind optimal skeletal muscle growth, recovery, and wasting. We believe deeply in the words of the famous “Bill Bowerman, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”.
Peter Diamandis wants to live to 700 years old. It might actually be possible, but we can’t make it to 700 if we don’t start crushing 100. And that means doing your part to support the studying of human thriving by helping us create a new model of scientific funding.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Galpin’s Muscle Science experiment, and learn how you can support the scientific revolution.
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- Wei M, Kampert JB, Barlow CE, Nichaman MZ, Gibbons LW, Paffenbarger RS, Jr., and Blair SN. Relationship between low cardiorespiratory fitness and mortality in normal-weight, overweight, and obese men. JAMA 282: 1547-1553, 1999.
- Woudberg NJ, Goedecke JH, and Lecour S. Protection from Cardiovascular Disease Due to Increased High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in African Black Populations: Myth or Reality? Ethn Dis 26: 553-560, 2016.