Wednesday, November 13, 2013

WeSearch connects donors to medical researchers to fund solutions

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Upper Peninsula's Second Wave Media
November 13, 2013

WeSearch supported UMBTC team (Photo by Shawn Malone)

The funding model for medical research is a difficult one--either apply for scarce government funding, or work for a big pharmaceutical company. Even charities that back medical research for specific diseases can be inefficient. So, a Marquette (Michigan) entrepreneur had a better idea: crowd-fund it. That's how WeSearch was created.

When Marquette resident Amy Rovin expressed frustration about feeling helpless over the cancer diagnosis of a close friend, her son Chris was listening. Talk about medical issues was common in the Rovin household, but this really struck home.

Chris Rovin is the son of a nurse and a physician, so solving medical problems is usual conversation over the family dinner table. The suffering of his mother's friend caught his attention, but even more that his mother wanted to help in some way, perhaps give a meaningful donation to relevant research, and couldn't find a way to do it.

"That was my first reason for coming up with the idea of WeSearch," says Rovin. "There were two more. Reason two was the inefficiency of most charities. People donate money and don't realize that their donation is going almost entirely toward administrative costs. Only about 20 percent might actually go to research. The third reason was that most research funding requests go unfunded. When I looked into it, out of about 68,000 research fund requests in one year, 55,000 of those went unfunded."

So was born the passion for, and the idea of, WeSearch, a nonprofit organization to connect donors directly with medical researchers. WeSearch opened for donations in October 2011. Chris Rovin is executive director and co-founder, with Guillaume Curaudeau, a college friend he met while at University of Michigan majoring in history.

Rovin is still in college, now attending Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and working on his master's in business administration while keeping close watch on WeSearch.

"WeSearch lists medical research being conducted through universities," he explains.

"Donors can search for a research project that they feel will be beneficial and help fund it. In return, researchers update donors on research progress. Our 501(c)3 status was approved in 2012, so all donations are tax deductible."

Not only tax deductible, Rovin stresses, but every dollar goes directly to ...

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