Crowdiagnosis project

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Mugilan Poongkunran M.B.B.S [2]; Vendhan Ramanujam M.B.B.S [3]


Common diseases occur commonly. Indeed, we teach medical students "When you hear hoof beats, think of a horse, not a zebra". While this teaching applies to the majority of patients, there are those infrequent patients for whom the diagnosis has escaped clinicians, and they are one of those few, unfortunate, "zebras".

The goal of the Crowdiagnosis Project (AKA Operation Zebra, ZebraMed, or Zebra Hunters) is to help those patients and doctors whose signs and symptoms have eluded diagnosis. For 8 years now, the WikiDoc team has been creating webpages that contain the largest repository of all the known causes of symptoms, signs and laboratory abnormalities. While WikiDoc's lists may initially be gathered by "artificial intelligence" (find every disease associated with a given symptom) to optimize sensitivity, these lists are then verified by "human intelligence" to optimize specificity. The process of researching, vetting and verifying each cause is hard, but is made easier by the crowdsourcing of numerous physicians from around the world. As John F. Kennedy said: "We chose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard". As our Founder and Editor-In-Chief says: "At WikiDoc, we choose projects that meet an unmet need, often because they are hard and meet an unmet need that will otherwise not be met given the effort required."

Statement of Need

  • There are many lists of "differential diagnosis", but there are limitations to exiting lists.
  • Other lists are static and not "living" or green
  • Other lists are incomplete
  • Other lists have false causes or errors
  • Other lists maximize sensitivity at the cost of specificity
  • Other lists do not prioritize causes as life threatening or common
  • There is a lack of free universal access to a world class team of clinicians who can help in the diagnose "tough cases".

How Can WikiDoc Meet These Unmet Needs

WikiDoc is a global collaboration involving over 7,000 contributors at present. As such, it is the ideal entity to leverage the expertise of experts from around the world to "Crowdiagnose" a given constellation of signs, symptoms and laboratory findings. As our founder C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. always says: "The tribe is smarter than any individual". One of the goals of WikiDoc is to assemble a tribe of "Zebra Hunters" to track down these tough diagnoses.

The Crowdiagnosis Project (AKA Operation Zebra, ZebraMed, or Zebra Hunters) is the ultimate compilation list of all the other differential diagnosis lists. Other lists have been created using artificial intelligence to scrape the internet to find associations between symptoms and rare diseases. While this optimizes sensitivity (all the potential causes and more are found) and it is lacking in specificity as false causes can be included in these lists. There is a need for physician input to vet each of the causes on such a list.

The Crowdiagnosis Project (AKA Operation Zebra, ZebraMed, or Zebra Hunters) was created to meet the following unmet needs:

  • Free universal access to the world's most complete list of all the causes of various medical symptoms, signs and laboratory abnormalities
  • Organization of all the potential causes of a sign or symptom into
  • Life threatening causes (conditions that may result in death or permanent disability within the next 24 hours if left untreated),
  • Common causes
  • Free universal access to lists that can be searched by organ system
  • Free universal access to lists that can be searched alphabetically
  • Free universal access to lists that include side effects of drugs as a cause of signs and symptoms
  • Free universal access to the epidemiology of all the causes to assess the frequency of a rare disease as a function of age, gender, race, genetics, and geography
  • Free universal access to the suggested diagnostic approach to identify a rare cause of a given sign or symptom
  • Free universal access to the treatment of all the potential causes of a rare disease

How Can You Help WikiDoc Meet These Needs

Researching and Assembling A Complete List Of Causes For A Given Sign Or Symptom

WikiDoc seeks healthcare providers who would like to research the causes of signs, symptoms and abnormal laboratory findings. To join the effort, we need your CV on file. Email us at

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