In the face of sequestration and flat funding, researchers are turning to new avenues for financial support; the first at the Hutchinson Center to launch a crowdfunding campaign is Dr. Bonnie McGregor. A behavioral medicine researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division, McGregor aims to raise funds to develop an interactive wellness intervention program for ovarian cancer survivors.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new platform that provides a public forum for finding funding for everything from disaster relief to artists seeking support from fans—with a multitude of causes in between. Crowdfunding uses email and social media to reach large networks of individuals and ask for relatively small donations to fund a project.
In McGregor's case, the project is the creation of a web-workbook that will accompany an innovative, live web-delivered wellness program for ovarian cancer survivors. The program will enable the research team, led by McGregor, to provide state-of-the-science care to women who could benefit from coping skills and mindfulness training.
McGregor, a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice, is tapping into her social networks with the immediate goal of raising $10,000 by late June. Crowdfunding is successful when it asks people to pay forward for something that will work—in this case, evidence-based tools to improve health by reducing stress. McGregor's team generated more than $3,000 in the first days of the campaign.
"I'm really excited about how crowdfunding can educate the public about the science being done at the Hutchinson Center and provide anyone the opportunity to support science," McGregor said. "With crowdfunding, small donations can add up to something big."
Tools honed from Health SMART program
McGregor studies how psychological stress affects the body physically, and how cognitive behavioral stress management can improve psychological and physical health. Her research with breast cancer survivors, mixed groups of cancer survivors, and women at risk for breast and ovarian cancer has shown that techniques from her Health SMART program—which included guided relaxation and mindfulness meditation exercises—reduce stress and stress-related hormones, boost the immune system and enhance emotional growth.
McGregor developed the new project with Dr. Janine Gauthier, a Chicago-based licensed clinical psychologist specializing in psychosocial oncology, and Dr. Susan Lutgendorf, professor at the University of Iowa and a groundbreaking researcher in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. Their project combines a successful cognitive behavioral stress-management program from the University of Miami with mindfulness-based stress-management practices in an eight-week Mindfulness Enhanced Cognitive Stress Management program that the team will deliver to small groups of ovarian cancer survivors live in survivors' own homes via the Web.
"Through our program, we're striving to reduce stress, strengthen social connections, and improve well-being among ovarian cancer survivors, which may ultimately led to a greater sense of health for them and their families," McGregor said.
If McGregor exceeds her fundraising goal and raises $50,000 or more, the team will be able to pilot test the new program with more groups of ovarian cancer survivors and collect more data to strengthen their application when they apply for the federal funding needed for a larger study.
"We are also using crowdfunding as a means for anyone to get access to stress-management tools," McGregor said. "Perks for contributors include the workbook and relaxation CDs used in our research."
McGregor said it might also be possible to add a perk that gives women a chance to experience the new intervention once it is developed.
How to help
Look for more information in CenterNet for faculty and staff interested in pursuing a crowdfunded project. If you have immediate questions, contact Development's Amy Ring at (206) 667-7404, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Andrea Detter at (206) 667-7224, email@example.com.