First-Ever Citizen Science Project for Alzheimer’s Research Gets 10,000th Volunteer

Published: May 09, 2018

BrightFocus-Funded “EyesOnALZ” Cuts Research Time in Half

Clarksburg MD — BrightFocus Foundation today announced that EyesOnALZ, the first-ever crowdsourced project to engage the public in Alzheimer’s research, hit a major milestone by exceeding 10,000 citizen scientists joining to help speed up the time-consuming data analysis of stalled blood vessels in the brain.  BrightFocus is the key funder of this effort.

Pietro Michelucci PhD, EyesOnALZ project lead at the Human Computation Institute, said, “10,000 volunteers is a huge milestone for us.  People of all ages and all continents are setting aside their differences and working together as one to fix a shared problem.  This is humanity at its best."

BrightFocus Vice President for Scientific Affairs Diane Bovenkamp, PhD, said, “EyesOnAlz is on the cutting edge of using citizen science – the power of the crowd – in biomedical research.  This is an exciting moment and a reminder of how all of us can be a part of the search for a cure.”

EyesOnALZ participants play an online game, Stall Catchers, to help researchers in Cornell University's Schaffer-Nishimura laboratory who are examining blood vessels in the brains of mice for “stalls,” or clogged segments where blood is no longer flowing.

Scientists have been able to pinpoint the link between stalls and Alzheimer’s disease in mouse models and have successfully reversed some symptoms by reducing the number of stalls. While documenting these stalls is very time-consuming for researchers, citizen scientists playing Stall Catchers have already cut this time in half, a metric projected to increase exponentially as participation further grows.
In 2017, Stall Catchers and Dr. Michelucci were featured in The Crowd & The Cloud, a four-part series created for public television about the power of crowdsourcing and mobile technologies. 

About BrightFocus

BrightFocus Foundation is a premier source of private research funding to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.  We are currently managing a global portfolio of nearly 200 research projects, a $40 million investment in the bold, innovative science that will find the cures for diseases of mind and sight.  We share the latest research findings and best practices to empower families impacted by these diseases.

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