Labfundr, a Halifax startup that has developed a crowdfunding site for scientific research, has launched its first campaign, which will help develop a databank of blood samples for Canadian children and teens.

Founded by scientific researcher Eric Fisher, Labfundr is designed to help scientists raise funding by seeking support from a broad range of people who understand the value of the research. The platform not only garners financial donations from people but lets them follow the research and feel they’re part of the team performing important work.

The first campaign on the crowdfunding site will be conducted by CALIPER — the Canadian Laboratory Initiative on Paediatric Reference Intervals. The group is based at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and is developing a repository of data on healthy blood samples for children. This data will provide doctors with a baseline that will lead to faster and more accurate diagnoses of diseases in children.

“Every child deserves the best healthcare possible through accurate diagnosis and interpretation of medical test results,” CALIPER lead researcher Khosrow Adeli said in a statement. “This kind of database will assist pediatricians from across the country and around the world in making health-care decisions for our children.”

Fisher has a PhD in biochemistry and comes from a family of scientists. He’s deeply concerned about the difficulties Canadian scientists face in funding their research. He said in an interview the country is losing scientists, who are either going to other countries or changing professions. So he’s launching a crowdfunding site with the goal of channeling more money into scientific research.

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What’s more, he hopes Labfundr will bring the science community closer to the general public and foster communications between them.

“Researchers can reach people who care about their research, and the greater public can find out about projects that matter to them and help out,” he said.

CALIPER exemplifies the type of research project Labfundr is targeting. With a goal of raising $10,000, CALIPER plans to use the funds to expand a database of healthy blood test values, also known as pediatric reference intervals, taken from healthy Canadian children. The campaign will be open-ended, so it will continue to raise money through Labfundr for an indefinite period of time.

“Doctors typically rely on reference intervals to determine if the patient is healthy or unhealthy,” said Adeli. “Reference intervals specific for children and teens have been severely lacking, which can lead to misinterpretation of blood test results and potential misdiagnosis.”

Having suffered from near-fatal breathing complications as a child, Fisher understands that people want to improve health for children and that scientific research can save young lives. Labfundr is now in talks with other researchers about launching campaigns, which must be conducted by researched at a recognized institution such as a hospital or university.

“Everyone can relate in one way or another on how science impacted their lives,” said Fisher. “It saved my life as an infant. And this initiative can save a lot of lives in Canada and elsewhere. So it’s very impactful.”