How to Crowdsource a Meth Lab

How to Crowdsource a Meth Lab

By Bryan Le 10/26/12

A Princeton scientist who wants to research amphetamines tells The Fix how he's asking the Internet for help.

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Not this kind of meth lab Photo via

Ethan O. Perlstein, an evolutionary pharmacologist at Princeton, wants people like you to fund his meth lab. No, not the Breaking Bad kind—though Perlstein is a fan and uses the motif to pitch his project—but the science kind, to research how amphetamines, including meth, really work. Chasing government grants to undertake research takes a long time, and can also create a separation between science and the general public, Perlstein believes. “I actually think the antiquated and inefficient government grant funding model is the root cause of a lot of problems in basic biomedical research,” he tells The Fix. “Raising money on the Internet via social media or networks is an antidote because this open, interactive model forces scientists from the outset to make their ideas and hypotheses understandable in plain English," he continues," which then sets the stage for a sustainable 'inquiry, discovery, new inquiry' cycle.”

He hopes he can hit his fundraising target of $25,000, so he can figure out where in the brain these drugs mess around—which could then help us to to map out the brain's wiring and create new addiction treatments. “If our project gets fully funded, we will be able to perform experiments that have been long overdue in basic psychopharmacology research. Namely: where do amphetamines accumulate inside brain cells?” he tells us. “In the past, maps of where psychoactive drugs go in the brain have allowed scientists to develop models that connect molecular interactions to cellular responses to macroscopic behaviors.” Anyone interested in supporting his vision for amphetamine research and open science can check out his project page, Crowdsourcing Discovery, or watch his video pitch: