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EPA ToxCast TM Challenge – Biological and/or Chemical Insights Needed to Revolutionize Screening for Chemical Safety

STATUS: Awarded
POSTED: Dec 12 2013
SOURCE: InnoCentive

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the Toxicity Forecaster (ToxCast™) in 2007 to find ways to predict chemical safety and to prioritize the thousands of chemicals that could be further evaluated for potential human health risks. December 2013 marks the heralded public release of the ToxCast™ Phase II data set that provides comprehensive information on 1,800 chemicals analyzed in 700 in vitro assays, accessible starting on December 17, 2013 through the new interactive Chemical Safety for Sustainability Dashboard (iCSS – Unabridged raw data are available here. Given the massive amount of in vitro data now available, the EPA requests that Solvers identify a group of in vitro assays, chemical properties, and/or structural descriptors to quantitatively predict a chemical’s systemic lowest effect level (LEL) in an in vivo animal toxicity study, but excluding chemicals that cause toxicity through inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (a common mechanism for neurotoxicity). The framework and associated biological and chemical rationale will be used to help focus algorithm development in the subsequent TopCoder challenge.

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on January 19, 2014. Late submissions will not be considered.

Challenge ID: 9933111
Team Project Rooms are available on this Challenge Team Share Challenge Share
Challenge Overview

People are exposed to many man-made chemicals throughout their lives. These include food ingredients and additives, pesticides, cosmetics, medicines, cleaners, solvents, etc. Historically, a series of standard animal studies have been used as a means to evaluate whether a chemical can cause a range of different adverse effects and at what dose these effects occur. The term “systemic toxicity” is often used because the effects can occur in different organ systems such as the liver, kidney, lungs, or reproductive system. The systemic Lowest Effect Level or LEL is the lowest dose that shows adverse effects in these animal toxicity tests. The LEL is then conservatively adjusted in different ways by regulators to derive a value that can be used by the Agency to set exposure limits that are expected to be tolerated by the majority of the population.

Ideally, every chemical to which we are exposed would have a well-defined LEL. However, the full battery of animal studies required to estimate the LEL costs millions of dollars and takes many months to complete. As a result, thousands of chemicals lack the required data needed to estimate an LEL. To help fill this gap, the EPA has screened nearly 2,000 chemicals across a battery of more than 700 biochemical and cell-based in vitro assays to identify what proteins, pathways, and cellular processes these chemicals interact with and at what concentration they interact. The EPA desires a novel solution that proposes a combination of key in vitro assays, chemical properties, and/or structural descriptors that quantitatively predict a chemical’s systemic LEL derived from in vivo toxicity tests. Chemicals causing toxicity through inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (a common mechanism for neurotoxicity) are excluded from the challenge since they may skew the LEL values and can be identified in other ways.

Important Eligibility Note: Solvers are not eligible for an award and are discouraged from submitting a solution, if the Solver has an active signed research partnership agreement with EPA that provided them access to pre-published ToxCast™ Phase II data (including assay summary activity files, assay description files, effect and endpoint data files from animal toxicity studies, concentration response data files, & chemical library and structure files).

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award. The awards will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $10,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $2,000.
  • Additional Award: In addition to the direct monetary awards, the winner(s) of this Challenge may be invited (at the Seeker’s sole discretion) to a unique opportunity to present their idea to high-profile thought leaders at an upcoming event (ToxCast™ Data Analysis Summit) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina on May 13-14, 2014. To offset travel expenses, transportation and accommodations will be reimbursed at the federal per diem rate.
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker. Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solvers grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal, including for promotional purposes.

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.

What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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