This Erasmus researcher crowdfunded her research!
Inventions or charities being crowdfunded is happening a lot, and now an Erasmus MC internist has also managed to crowdfund her research! Dr. Jeanine Roeters van Lennep collected €40,000 for her research on how the menstrual cycle influences heart problems. The Dutch Heart Foundation thereupon decided to double the amount to more than €80,000.
‘Thanks! It’s very exciting. I was hoping to raise €25,000 in two months, but I got to that point a lot faster. So I asked the Dutch Heart Foundation: what if I continue, will you still double it? And they decided to do that.’
Why did you crowdfund your research?
‘The idea to research the influence of the menstrual cycle on heart problems was already on my mind, but it was a bit too wild for regular funding. So when I came across this grant from the Dutch Heart Foundation, I thought it would fit perfectly, since it was meant for innovative ideas, real out-of-the-box initiatives.
'I meet many women who connect their symptoms to their cycle, but they are not being taken seriously: doctors tell them there’s no research that supports the theory. So I thought: well, then this research should be conducted. Crowdfunding is very "now", and I knew the target population wanted the research and the Dutch Heart Foundation supported it. Moreover, I dared to believe that my network was large enough to trust that crowdfunding would work.’
Crowdfunding is usually used for products or charity projects. Not for scientific research.
‘Yes, this is a quite new approach to research. The Dutch Heart Foundation is a real pioneer in this, and other parties are very interested to see how it’s going.’
Did it cost a lot of time?
‘It’s like a second job. You try many different things, some of them take a lot of time and don’t work, others work without you expecting it. There was a lot of pressure: if I didn’t succeed in getting the sufficient amount of money together, I would have to give everything back.
'But I really liked it, because you really have to connect with the target group. Who would be interested, and what do I have to offer to those specific groups? You need to convince people to invest in you and your research, so you’re being pulled off your ivory tower and forced to explain everything in layman’s terms.’
So, tell us. Why is this research so important?
‘It’s known that the menstrual cycle has a big effect on women’s health: migraines, for example, but also asthma and epileptic seizures. But the effect on heart problems has never been researched, even though those are related to many other natural rhythms like day and night, or the seasons.
If we are able to find a relation, it might lead to women with heart problems not having to take medicines all the time, but just during their period. It’s a pilot study, but I think it can open the way to more research on the connection between cardiovascular diseases and the menstrual cycle. A large proportion of the donors is female, which really shows that women want to know this. They want to see that research they’ve been waiting on being done.’
Besides them being female, what kind of people donated?
‘All 327 donors differed completely. Some I don’t really know, some came through my network. There were individuals, but also companies and clubs. And there was a real snowball effect, people sharing it with each other.
Now that we’re getting started, we want to keep everyone involved, for example by sending out a newsletter. We really want to try to maintain the community we built through crowdfunding.’
If you are interested in receiving the newsletter, you can email Jeanine at email@example.com