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Published On January 11, 2018


Podcast: Enter the Citizen Scientist

Given half a chance, non-scientists can also make discoveries that move medicine forward.

Most breakthroughs in health care come from a network of government-funded institutions, with their trained researchers and expensive equipment. But a few discoveries each year come from citizen scientists, everyday people who have found a better cure or treatment all on their own.

The podcast is co-hosted by Harry DeMonaco, formerly the director of the Innovation Support Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. He explores the concept of “lead users,” who identify problems long before the industry leaders do, and who often go looking for answers where none exist.

"While the top-down approach is the traditional approach, it underestimates the innovation process by actual people in the field,” he says. Some people with diabetes, for instance, learned to hack their devices to continuously regulate their glucose levels when such devices didn’t exist. Those kinds of actions can spur innovation on a wider scale.

The podcast also takes a visit to the Brooklyn home of Genspace, the first "community laboratory," which gives these lead users access to cutting-edge research tools.

Listen here, or subscribe to the Proto podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. 

The Citizen Scientist