1. Gould, Kathleen Ahern PhD, RN

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Recently, I was invited to speak to a group of young and seasoned researchers. Throughout the day, I was impressed with the research presentations and the enthusiasm about projects currently underway. Inspired by these researchers, I began to think more about new methods and emerging tools for health care research! I was encouraged about the endless possibilities for research, yet worried about how difficult it is to secure the time and resources for such work.


A few days after the presentation, I received my weekly RSS feed from Medium,1 a digital blog the covers a wide array of topics from medicine, science, politics, and other genres. I was intrigued by an article by Marcela Uilano de Silva2 titled, "I Crowdfunded My PhD Research. This Model Could Change the World."


I learned that Marcela is a researcher and a TED fellow. The TED fellows program selects young innovators from around the world to raise international awareness of their work and maximize their impact.3


Marcela Uilano de Silva explained that her professor suggested that crowdfunding may be a viable vehicle to finance her research on the golden mussel, an invasive species in South America. The mussel, de Silva explains, "reproduces so quickly that it displaces native wildlife and changes ecosystems. It also chokes up industrial works, causing millions of dollars in damage."3


With the help of her professor, she drafted an informative, well-written statement that presented the problem. Together they wrote a script, describing her work. Their goal was to inspire passion but keep things simple, concise, and interesting. It read:


"Here's the problem we are trying to solve:


The golden mussel came to South America from Asia in ballast water on ships 20 years ago. Today, the invasive species has spread to an area of more than 120 000 miles, from the southernmost part of South America, Buenos Aires, through the central part of South America, the wetlands of Pantanal. The mussel is also classified by ecologists as an ecosystem engineer. This means it physically alters the places it invades and not always for the betterment of the environment."2


Her enthusiasm is evident as she explains what she is trying to do.


Our solution: I'm sequencing the golden mussel's genome in search of a gene that will allow us to eradicate it with biotechnological means. Why is this so important? If this destructive species reaches the Amazon River basin, it threatens 1 of the most biodiverse places on earth, one that is intricately linked to the well-being of all humankind. We cannot allow that to happen.2


The group produced a golden mussel crowdfunding campaign video through YouTube using a standard YouTube license in the category of education. The clip, published March 17, 2014, tells viewers that they are trying to raise $20 000.00. As of mid June 2015, the video has been viewed by 94 863 people.3


The video is titled, "Meet the golden mussel, the bivalve that only sleeps, eats, and dates! Crowdfunding campaign to sequence this plague's genome! The work is nonstop now!" It can be viewed at


De Silva found that to inspire the best thing is to keep things simple, concise, and interesting - and the audience will want to know more. Hundreds of people connected with Marcela to ask questions and share the crowdfunding link. As a result, 361 people gave $20 000.00 to help fund her research.


Marcela's words may help to inspire new avenues for research in health care and other disciplines as she says, "Through this experience, I learned that my job isn't just to do the hard work of the science, but to inspire passion in the rest of the world."2


Health care research is meaningful to everyone. We will all be patients 1 day. This model may be useful to help us find answers to improving the health of our population. There are many stakeholders who are ready to support new ideas and innovative work. I am happy to share this lesson from Marcela!


Kathleen Ahern Gould, PhD, RN


Adjunct Faculty


William F. Connell School of Nursing


Boston College


Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts




1. Medium. San Francisco, CA. Accessed June 3, 2014. [Context Link]


2. de Silva MU. I crowdfunded my PhD research. This model could change the world. Medium 2015. Accessed June 10, 2014. [Context Link]


3. TED Fellows. Accessed June 1, 2014. [Context Link]