October 25th, 2011 | Sci-Tech, University

Alumnus wins TED fellowship

Picture_5
Photo by Marcus Moretti.

Jimmy Lin ’01 is one of 25 winners of the annual TED Fellowship for the organization he founded, Rare Genomics Institute (RGI), TED announced today.

Lin started the nonprofit six months ago as a way to help patients with rare diseases pay for expensive genome sequencing and use the results for diagnosis and treatment. To find donors, RGI uses crowdfunding, a web 2.0 strategy that works through social media to solicit small donations from large groups of people. Several other startups, such as 33needs and Kickstarter, have used crowdfunding successfully to fund a variety of users’ private ventures, from small businesses to short films.

Lin’s organization, which has several Yalies on staff, sets up online profiles for their patients, promotes them on Facebook and Twitter, and builds a network of researchers and clinicians to process sequenced genomes. The site has three active profiles and is currently partnered with scientists at five universities, including Yale. Lin said he hopes to push the number of affiliated sites to 10 by the end of the year.

With the TED Fellowship, Lin has won free admission to the TED Conference, which in 2012 will be in Long Beach, Calif. Each fellow is invited to give his own TED Talk at the conference. Other winners in Lin’s class include a Yemeni anti-censorship software designer, an Ethiopian-American recording artist and a computer scientist who creates self-assembling machines.

TED is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1984 as a four-day conference in California. Its website now hosts over 900 talks given by such distinguished speakers as Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, all of which are viewable for free. The talks have been watched several hundred million times, and have even earned a spot on a prestigious list of stuff white people like.

Check out RGI’s patient profiles here, and read full coverage of RGI in the Sci-Tech section of tomorrow’s News.