Last week I was privileged to represent InnoCentive at the Alzheimer’s Disease Summit: The Path to 2025 at the New York Academy of Sciences, supporting the final stage of the 2013 Geoffrey Beene Global NeuroDiscovery Challenge.
Made possible by the collaboration of Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative (GBFAI), Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, Institute of Medicine, Women Against Alzheimer’s Network, 21st Century BrainTrust™, BrightFocus Foundation, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass Bio, and Society for Women’s Health Research; and powered by InnoCentive, this challenge asked Solvers to identify male/female differences and the impact on neurodegenerative progression leading to Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease disproportionately affects women, who comprise two-thirds of patients and two-thirds of unpaid caregivers in the US. This challenge sought to incentivize researchers to focus on this angle, but also to raise awareness about the disparity. With a compelling challenge and accompanying global marketing campaign, both aims were achieved.
Solvers from over 65 countries engaged in this Challenge, opening more than 800 project rooms. Four finalists shared the initial award of $50,000, and three of these finalists were chosen to go forward to the final round, for the chance to win an additional $50,000 in funding.
After turning to the crowd for innovative hypotheses, GBFAI and partners turned to the crowd again – this time to help decide who would win the final $50,000 award. Five days of open voting generated over 6,000 votes from around the world, with separate streams for scientists and citizens, who made their decisions after viewing video pitches by the finalists. Participants of the Alzheimer’s Summit added their votes live on November 7th, determining Dr Enrico Glaab from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (University of Luxembourg) as the winner. The votes were close, and noting this, Sanofi US CEO Anne Whitaker offered an additional $50,000 to fund the second-place Solvers, Dr Kimberly Glass and Dr John Quackenbush (Harvard School of Public Health & Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) as well – a spontaneous act of great generosity.
All in all, this Challenge achieved incredible results: $150,000 in funding awarded, and over 7,000 people directly engaged in this significant research question on Alzheimer’s disease – we’re very proud to have played a role.
Authored by Siobhán Gibney Gomis, Director, Business Development at InnoCentive