November 6, 2020 Advancing Scientific Research Through the Catalyst of Crowdsourcing

We recently took part in a great webinar – “Advancing Scientific Research through the Catalyst of Crowdsourcing,” hosted by Bill Stith, Global Head, Health at Wipro. The event featured Dr. Eva Guinan, researcher and practicing pediatric oncologist from Harvard Medical School, and Topcoder’s own CTO, Dave Messenger. Enjoy a recording of the conversation and check out highlights below.

Healthcare Embraces Technology, Needs Talent

The healthcare field is adapting to a more agile, technologically advanced way of addressing challenges. As the world changes rapidly, innovation is accelerating across the full health continuum. Newer technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality are being applied in creative ways in areas like diagnosis, patient education, and clinical therapy. This new era requires a large pool of skilled individuals—talent with experience in data science, blockchain, and cognitive computing.

Changing the Research Paradigm

Dr. Guinan highlights the benefits crowdsourcing can bring to medical research by pointing out how insular the process currently is. As she puts it, “Relatively small groups of people who have very common backgrounds and perspectives get together. They formulate questions and hypothesis. They generate data. They present to similarly inclined individuals who also have a lot of the same information base, same prejudices and same perspectives. It’s very confined.”

Using crowdsourcing, especially tapping into a diverse group of non-experts, can result in game-changing ideas and often more solutions than expected. Dr. Guinan says that the using crowd can really disrupt the established research paradigm, replacing a narrow group of like-minded people with a broad spectrum of talent.

“I don’t care how big your computational biology department is. Crowdsourcing is much, much bigger. The skill base is much broader.” – Dr. Eva Guinan


As an example of crowdsourcing success in medical research. Dr Guinan relates how her team collaborated with Topcoder to develop a lung cancer diagnostic algorithm, one that would be especially useful in the developing world. Her research team broke the problem down into a series of challenges and ended up asking the top five Topcoder competitors to work together on the final stage. The result? An algorithm that was as good as the actual radiation therapist they used as a benchmark.

Topcoder CTO Dave Messenger closed by highlighting how Topcoder’s diverse, global talent community can benefit the healthcare industry. In addition to a breadth of hyper-specialized skills under one roof, on-demand talent can mobilize quickly to help customers meet new challenges and avoid disruption.

“Having that diverse community really helps drive access to resources, experience levels, geographies, different approaches, and new ideas.” —Dave Messenger

Want to discuss what Topcoder can do for your enterprise? Contact us.

Annika Nagy


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