scienceCrowdsourcing has the potential to change how medical research is both funded and carried out — and this could have a major impact in the quest to cure SCI, MS and many other disabilities. Every aspect of research, from deciding what to study, to designing clinical trials, to finding subjects, may get an Internet-powered makeover. And how will this new research model be paid for, if it enjoys more support from people than large institutions? By scientists passing the cyber-hat, in some instances.

This isn’t dreaming of something that may happen someday — “citizen science,” as supporters call it, is happening right now.

But first, a few definitions.

Crowdsourcing, according to Wikipedia, “is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” Usually this is done via a website, or other Internet-based platform.

The term was coined in 2005 by two of Wired magazine’s editors, Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson, to describe a phenomenon they were tracking that didn’t yet have a name — businesses beginning to outsource their work to people via the Inte