DrugTracker — citizen cyberscience final project

So, for my Citizen Cyberscience I wanted to do something with cancer communities, and especially their treatment and the responsiveness to the different drugs they take. I spent most of my semester doing some research on cancer treatments, how clinical trials are done, and online cancer communities. I was then introduced to Clearity Foundation, which is an organization that aims to find better drugs for Ovarian Cancer. 

So, by pairing up with them, we came up with DrugTracker.


DrugTracker is a web and mobile tool that allows cancer research organizations collect data from their patients in order to do better research. On one hand, it’s meant to be a one-stop-shop for patients to store their information and refer to it later, and on the other hand it’s meant to allow organizations with established communities of patients to openly gather that data and use it to better research cures and responsiveness.

Another thing that DrugTracker does, indirectly, is inform patients of the benefits of getting their genetic analysis and tests done. The long-term goal of the project is to get patients and community members to take that test in order to better determine responsiveness to drugs and alter the way clinical trials on cancer drugs are done, and the way that the FDA approves drugs.


 I used EpiCollect as a tool to build the application, as it immediately creates a database for you and it becomes mostly about creating the form that you want people to fill out. I have some issues with EpiCollect, which I’ll talk about later, but the ideal layout and method of the application would have been that it…

1. That it layers your information, and you fill it out bit by bit. So, specifically, the layers would be ‘You’, ‘Your Cancer’, ‘Your Treatment’ and ‘Your Genetic Profile.’ The last layer, which is the most difficult to get, is meant to be part of what informs people of the benefits of getting a genetic profile.

2. That, similar to LinkedIn, it gives you a percentage of how much of your profile is done. This is meant to encourage them to fill out their profiles until the very end, but also give them the option not to.


Unfortunately, I never got the chance to test it before the end of the semester. EpiCollect was difficult to work with, and most of my interaction was with the Clearity Foundation folks, and not any interaction with patients who would actually use it. That would be what I would do next, and I believe I would take it off of EpiCollect and taken it somewhere where I’d have more control over its functionality.

Here is what the app looks like!


This is what it looks like when you need to edit the settings, which you do. You have to input your email address (which I did, but is not apparent in this photo) and you have to manually type in the website in the Form URL (which isn’t a simple URL: http://epicollectserver.appspot.com/project.html?name=CancerDrugTest) in order to get it working.


This is the homepage of EpiCollect. It looks like this no matter which project you’re working on, which means that it doesn’t allow for much customization or flexibility of the buttons.


Here’s what it looks like when you click on ‘New Entry.’ These are the elements of the form that I built. Like I said, it’s less than ideal because I’m not able to layer it into sections of ‘You, Your Cancer, Your Treatment, Your Genetic Information.’


This wasn’t a drop down menu, but I ended up creating one by allowing people to select what drug they’re using. Another frustration is that I can’t make the following options after this change depending on the drug that was chosen, i.e. I can’t make the inputs be specific to that drug.


And, finally, this is basically an image that shows you what it looks like when you’re going through the form and putting in information.

EpiCollect feedback:

There were quite a few challenges with working with EpiCollect. Maybe my biggest one was not being able to load my project. I have a BlackBerry, and EpiCollect works on iPhone and Android only. Usually  apps that work on Android also work on BlackBerry, but not in this case. Also, when it came to actually loading my particular project onto EpiCollect (on a friend’s phone. Thanks, Jacki!) it was incredibly difficult. I had to go into settings, and input the URL of my project (which is here.) ALSO, now that I’ve shared the link to it, that doesn’t mean the web version of it is all that cool. Actually, it isn’t at all. That’s another criticism I have on EpiCollect: it’s ideally meant for mobile devices, and not computers. Which is frustrating.

And more, as far as layout goes…

- Couldn’t do a drop down menu, which would have simplified my form dramatically.

- Doesn’t allow me to layer the information, which is a major functionality that I wanted to use.

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