December 12, 2017

Open Science Prize Announces Epidemic Tracking Tool as Grand Prize Winner

From the National Institutes of Health:

2017-02-28_14-59-42A prototype online platform that uses real-time visualization and viral genome data to track the spread of global pathogens such as Zika and Ebola is the grand prize winner of the Open Science Prize.

The international team competition is an initiative by the National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

The winning team, Real-time Evolutionary Tracking for Pathogen Surveillance and Epidemiological Investigation(link is external), created its nextstrain.org prototype to pool data from researchers across the globe, perform rapid phylogenetic analysis, and post the results on the platform’s website.

The winning team will receive $230,000 to fully develop their prototype with NIH awarding $115,000 to the U.S. members of the winning team, and the Wellcome Trust and HHMI also contributing $115,000 to the winning team.

The Open Science Prize is a global competition designed to foster innovative solutions in public health and biomedicine using open digital content. The prize, which was launched in October 2015, aims to forge new international collaborations that bring together open science innovators to develop services and tools of benefit to the global research community.

Nextstrain.org placed first out of three top finalists, selected from a pool of 96 multinational, interdisciplinary teams including 450 innovators from 45 countries. This award is the culmination of a year-long process which included development and demonstration of working prototypes and multiple stages of rigorous review by panels of expert Open Science advisors and judges from the Wellcome Trust and NIH.

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All six finalist teams were considered exemplary by the funders and are to be commended for their tenacity in developing creative approaches to applying publicly-accessible data to solve complex biomedical and public health challenges. The topics spanned the breadth of biomedical and public challenges, ranging from understanding the genetic basis of rare diseases, mapping the human brain, and enhancing the sharing of clinical trial information. As evidenced from the six Open Science Prize finalists, public health and biomedical solutions are enriched when data are combined from geographically diverse sources. Final prototypes developed by the six finalists can be accessed at:https://www.openscienceprize.org/(link is external).

As increasing amounts of data are produced by scientists around the world and made openly available through publicly-accessible repositories, a major challenge to fully maximize this health information will be the lack of tools, platforms, and services that enable the sharing and synthesizing of disparate data sources. Development in this area is essential to turning diverse types of health data into usable and actionable knowledge.

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“This competition hallmarks a new direction in open science funding from disease-specific efforts toward disease agnostic projects in which scalable solutions can be applied to multiple disease areas and even to solving other scientific problems,” said Dr. Patti Flatley Brennan, NIH Interim Associate Director for Data Science, and director, National Library of Medicine. “In many ways, the Open Science Prize is a model program and NIH is looking forward to participating in new initiatives that accelerate open data sharing.”

Read the Complete Announcement from NIH

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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