Crowdfunded Searches for Medical Miracles

The Web is helping find answers for kids with rare diseases
Jimmy Lin and other scientists are testing a new funding model for medical research Photograph by Daniel Shea for Bloomberg Businessweek

As a medical student at Johns Hopkins University, Jimmy Lin worked on a case involving a 5-year-old whose development was suddenly stunted and who experienced unexplained and uncontrollable bouts of pain. His parents brought him to the best doctors at Harvard University, the Mayo Clinic, and other top medical centers. “It broke my heart seeing the parents’ faces drop when we told them it was most likely a rare genetic condition,” Lin says, sitting in a St. Louis coffee shop near the Washington University School of Medicine, where he now works as a genomics researcher. “I remember them walking down the hallway and wondering where they would go next.”

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