Publications

Dragojlovic, Nick & Larry D. Lynd. (2016) “What will the crowd fund? Preferences of prospective donors for drug development fundraising campaigns,” Drug Discovery Today, 21(12): 1863-1868.

Abstract: Biomedical researchers are increasingly turning to project-based online fundraising (i.e., crowdfunding) as a complementary source of research funding. To help inform the fundraising strategies adopted by researchers who take this approach, we conducted an online survey of prospective donors in North America. Respondents indicated not only an overwhelming preference for donating to projects conducted by nonprofit research organizations, but also an openness to donating to companies that have a ‘for-benefit’ corporate structure. They also showed a strong preference for projects that have alternate sources of funding, that have the potential to yield a curative therapy, and that focus on common and pediatric diseases.

Dragojlovic, Nick, Shirin Rizzardo, Nick Bansback, Craig Mitton, Carlo A. Marra, & Larry D. Lynd. (2015) “Challenges in Measuring the Societal Value of Orphan Drugs: Insights from a Canadian Stated Preference Survey,” The Patient – Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, 8(11): 93-101.

 Abstract: Background. Expensive drugs for rare diseases (i.e. orphan drugs) often do not meet traditional cost-effectiveness criteria and thus put further strain on limited healthcare budgets. Failing to provide medically necessary care to patients, however, violates one of the underlying tenets of most public health insurance systems—equity. This has led payers to consider the value that society places on the treatment of rare diseases, given the opportunity cost, when deciding on whether to fund specific treatments. Aims. In this article we aim to illustrate two factors that make the measurement of societal value in this area particularly difficult: the low level of public awareness of, and engagement with, the orphan-drug issue, and the ‘zero-sum’ framing commonly used to describe the policy challenge posed by orphan drugs. Method. We illustrate these challenges using data from an original survey of 2,005 Canadian adults. Respondents completed two tasks in which they were asked to choose between funding the treatment of patients suffering from either rare or common diseases. Results. Respondents were more likely to display choice aversion and unstable preferences if they had not completed a university degree and when a ‘zero-sum’ frame was used to introduce the choice sets. Conclusions. The results suggest that studies in which the stated opportunity costs of funding orphan drugs focus exclusively on reductions in funding for other drugs or treatments may only provide a limited understanding of citizens’ policy preferences in the area of rare diseases.

Dragojlovic, Nick & Einsiedel, Edna. (2015) “What drives public acceptance of second-generation biofuels? Evidence from Canada,” Biomass & Bioenergy, 75 (April 2015), 201-212.

Abstract: North American publics are currently much more supportive of second-generation biofuels than of conventional biofuels like corn-based ethanol. But what is the likely future trajectory of consumer acceptance of advanced biofuels? This study considers whether increased awareness of the potential unintended consequences of increasing the production of advanced biofuels could lead to a decline in public support for the technology. Using an experiment embedded in an original survey of Canadian adults, we test for the effect of two anti-biofuels arguments on Canadians’ support for policies meant to encourage the production of biofuels. We find that support for biofuels policies was reduced in our experiment when respondents were exposed to an argument about the potential impact of biofuels production on food prices and when they were told that the use of woody biomass as a feedstock for the production of cellulosic biofuels might lead to an increase in commercial logging. In both cases, however, support was reduced only among respondents who did not perceive climate change to pose a significant risk. Overall, our results suggest that public support for advanced biofuels is potentially vulnerable to arguments that focus on the unintended consequences of producing biofuels from non-food feedstocks.

Dragojlovic, Nick.  (2015) “Listening to Outsiders: The Impact of Messenger Nationality on Transnational Persuasion in the United States,” International Studies Quarterly, 59(1), 73-85. Epub 23 Dec 2014.

Abstract: Does nationality disadvantage foreign actors when they attempt to persuade the American public? Using data from an online survey experiment administered to a sample of US citizens, we find that the nationality of British and French advocates only reduces persuasiveness among American Republicans with low levels of political awareness. Among American Democrats, credible French or British advocates can be more persuasive than a comparable American source. Overall, foreign messengers from friendly countries are not disadvantaged by nationality, as nationality has low political salience and other domestic characteristics (such as partisanship) dominate subjects’ heuristic processing. When a foreign advocate’s nationality does play a role, however, it is likely to lead to polarization in domestic audience attitudes.

Dragojlovic, Nick & Lynd, Larry. (2014) “Crowdfunding Drug Development: the State of Play in Oncology and Rare Diseases,” Drug Discovery Today, 19(11), 1775-1780.

Abstract: In this article, we present descriptive data on 125 crowdfunding campaigns aimed at financing research in oncology (including basic research, drug discovery, and clinical trials). We also describe five campaigns that have succeeded in raising substantial funds to support the development of treatments for ultrarare diseases. The data suggest that crowdfunding is a viable approach to supporting early proof-of-concept research that could allow researchers in oncology and rare diseases to succeed in traditional grant competitions or to attract private investment. The data also suggest that such an approach could become a valuable additional source of funding for early-stage innovators in the drug development arena.

Dragojlovic, Nick.  (2014)  “Voting for Stem Cells: How Local Conditions Tempered Moral Opposition to Proposition 71,” Science and Public Policy, 41(3), 359-369.

Abstract:  A major theme in the debate on Proposition 71, the 2004 California ballot initiative in which voters approved $3 billion in state funding for stem cell research, was the tension between values-based opposition to the use of embryos in medical research and a focus on the potential health benefits of stem cell therapies. Using a dataset that combines individual-level voting intention data from three Field Poll pre-election surveys and county-level data, the present study finds that moral opposition to Proposition 71 decreased as the local prevalence of chronic diseases and the proportion of elderly residents in respondents’ counties increased. The paper argues that this finding reflects an increase in the salience of the possible benefits of stem cell research that was driven by local conditions, and concludes with a discussion of the implications of this dynamic for the democratic governance of regenerative medicine in the context of an aging society.

Dragojlovic, Nick & Einsiedel, Edna. (2014) “The polarization of public opinion on biofuels in North America: key drivers and future trends,” Biofuels, 5(3), 233-247.

Abstract: We investigate the extent to which public attitudes towards biofuels are politically polarized in the USA and Canada. Drawing from a review of the literature on Americans’ attitudes towards biofuels, we show that opinion on the issue is politically polarized in the USA, with Democrats approving of biofuels much more strongly than Republicans. Using data from two original surveys of Canadian adults, however, we find that attitudes in Canada are neither politically nor culturally polarized. We argue that the difference in polarization across the two countries likely reflects differences in the relative polarization of public attitudes towards climate change and in the party affiliation of the governments that established pro-biofuels policies.

Dragojlovic, Nick.  (2013)  “Canadians’ Support for Radical Life Extension Resulting from Advances in Regenerative Medicine,” Journal of Aging Studies, 27(2), 151-158.

Abstract:  This paper explores Canadian public perceptions of a hypothetical scenario in which a radical increase in life expectancy results from advances in regenerative medicine.  A national sample of 1,231 adults completed an online questionnaire on stem cell research and regenerative medicine, including three items relating to the possibility of Canadians’ average life expectancy increasing to 120 years by 2050.  Overall, Canadians are strongly supportive of the prospect of extended lifespans, with 59% of the sample indicating a desire to live to 120 if scientific advances made it possible, and 47% of respondents agreeing that such increases in life expectancy are possible by 2050.  The strongest predictors of support for radical life extension are individuals’ general orientation towards science and technology and their evaluation of its plausibility.  These results contrast with previous research, which has suggested public ambivalence for biomedical life extension, and point to the need for more research in this area.  They suggest, moreover, that efforts to increase public awareness about anti-aging research are likely to increase support for the life-extending consequences of that research program.

Dragojlovic, Nick & Einsiedel, Edna.  (2013)  “Framing Synthetic Biology: Evolutionary Distance, Conceptions of Nature, and the Unnaturalness Objection,” Science Communication, 35(5), 547-572.

Abstract:  Under what conditions does the perceived “unnaturalness” of a specific application of synthetic biology influence its public acceptability?  Using data from a framing experiment embedded in a national survey of Canadian adults, we argue that this consideration leads to negative perceptions of the technology only when opponents of the application use rhetoric that refers to its unnaturalness and when characteristics of the application itself, such as the use of genetic material from “dissimilar” organisms, increase the perceived relevance of such arguments.  Additionally, we find that individuals who view nature as sacred or spiritual are most responsive to unnaturalness framing.

Dragojlovic, Nick.  (2013)  “Leaders Without Borders: Familiarity as a Moderator of Transnational Source Cue Effects,” Political Communication, 30(2), 297-316.

Abstract:  The role of source cue effects in transnational persuasion (in which a foreign actor attempts to persuade an audience in another jurisdiction) is largely unexplored in both the political communication and international relations literatures. This article investigates transnational source cue effects using two source cue experiments that test the persuasiveness of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in a Canadian context. The experiments were embedded in an online survey administered to student participants at a Canadian university in January of 2011. As might be expected, the foreign leaders exerted positive source cue effects among participants who held positive impressions of the leaders and backlash effects among those who held strongly negative impressions. These effects, however, were moderated by participants’ level of political awareness, with the largest effects observed among participants who had an intermediate level of awareness. It is argued that this non-linear moderating effect can be attributed to the countervailing effects of attitude stability and source familiarity (both of which are associated with political awareness) on individuals’ susceptibility to source cue effects. Finally, cueing David Cameron had approximately equivalent source cue effects on participants’ attitudes towards government spending on foreign aid and welfare, suggesting that foreign leaders may be able to move opinion on domestic as well as on foreign policy issues. Overall, these results validate existing models of source cue effects in a transnational context and point to the scope and limitations of national leaders’ ability to engage in direct public diplomacy.

Dragojlovic, Nicolas & Einsiedel, Edna.  (2013)  “Playing God or Just Unnatural?  Religious Beliefs and Approval of Synthetic Biology,”  Public Understanding of Science, 22(7), 547-571.

Abstract:  Using evidence from a 2010 survey of 32 European publics, this paper argues that belief in God increases disapproval for synthetic biology through two different mechanisms, depending on the strength of the individual’s belief.  Among weak believers, belief in God appears to be associated with the increased availability and accessibility of the idea that genetic manipulation interferes with nature.  Strong believers, in contrast, appear to also engage in an explicitly theological evaluation of synthetic biology, with opposition to synthetic biology resulting from the perception that the creation of new types of organisms encroaches on a domain of activity (creation) that has traditionally been considered to be a divine prerogative.  Overall, our findings suggest that value predispositions can influence public attitudes towards synthetic biology even when individuals engage in explicit deliberation about the technology in question.

Dragojlovic, Nicolas.   (2011)  “Priming and the Obama Effect on Public Evaluations of the United States,”  Political Psychology, 32(6), 989-1006.

Abstract:  This article investigates the psychological basis for the dramatic improvement in the Canadian public’s evaluations of the United States following President Obama’s inauguration. It attributes this change to a media priming effect triggered by Obama’s increased visibility in Canadian news coverage of the United States in 2008 and 2009. A survey experiment conducted on a sample of undergraduate students at a Canadian university is used to illustrate this priming effect. Mentioning President Obama in an unrelated question leads participants to evaluate the United States more positively than in a control group. This assimilation effect is particularly strong when compared to a condition in which former President Bush is mentioned instead of President Obama. The results also show that the Obama priming effect is moderated by political awareness such that individuals with intermediate levels of awareness are most sensitive to the Obama prime.