June 30, 2015
An article published in Science Magazine describes the launch of a crowdsourcing curation campaign, dubbed Mark2Cure, by harnessing the efforts of lay volunteers who will scan papers for key terms to help create a powerful searchable database. A team of scientists at Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, aims to engage lay people for a curation project for diseases. The researchers have pointed to a study conducted in the Scripps which found that “although the average novice doesn’t curate as well as a person with a doctorate, groups of novices actually perform on par, or even slightly better, than a professional.” The project aims to build a knowledge base that requires humans to teach computers key concepts from curated articles. According to the researchers “anyone with modest online training, anyone who reads English can scan research papers for key terms—names of genes, proteins, diseases, and drugs—and use online marking tools to document relationships between them.” It is first reaching out to the community of people affected by NGLY1 deficiency, a newly discovered genetic disorder, caused by defects in NGLY1, an enzyme that removes sugar molecules from proteins to ensure proper degradation. They will then ask other volunteers to perform these tasks on their own time at home.