When he graduated from Tulane with a major in philosophy and a half a minor in French, John Wilbanks had little idea that he would become one of the world’s most important forces for good in the areas of citizen science, data sharing, and participant empowerment. So influential is he in this field that he has his own Wikipedia entry.
John’s fascinating journey and eclectic career started after college, when he did a stint in the D.C. office of legendary California congressman Pete Stark, and learned about the excitement and challenges around emerging technologies like the Interwebs. He then talked his way from a Craig’s List posting into a job working for Larry Lessig at Harvard Law School, where he began to dig deeply into meaty topics like cyberspace law and internet governance. While in Boston, John also discovered bioinformatics, and soon founded and ran an early company in this sector.
After selling his company, John returned to technology governance, spending the next seven years at Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools., before meeting Dr. Stephen Friend and joining the non-profit open science organization Sage Bionetworks, an organization that promotes open science and patient engagement in the research process. John leads the Consent to Research project, which provides a platform for people to donate their health data for the purposes of scientific research and the advancement of medicine. Sage has introduced novel approaches to data sharing, collaboration, and consent, and has attracted the interest of collaborators ranging from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center to Apple Computer to IBM Watson, all of which are relying on Sage’s efforts to power their healthcare programs.
In fact, our intrepid Tech Tonics co-host, David Shaywitz, was a founding advisor of Sage.
We are delighted to have this true champion of participant-driven science on our show today.