The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Announces Open Science Research Challenge at White House







The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Announces Innovative Open Science Research Challenge at White House

Big Data Challenge will promote the use of crowdsourcing in an effort to spur rapid innovation in the fight against Alzheimer’s

Washington, DC - The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s disease, in collaboration with Sage Bionetworks and IBM’s DREAM, today announced the Alzheimer’s Disease Big Data Challenge at the White House’s Open Science Champions event, which recognized individuals and groups that promote open science.

The challenge marks an effort to increase innovation and identify new Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers through the use of open source data from Alzheimer’s patients that was provided by the North American Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). The development of new Alzheimer’s biomarkers would help researchers better identify Alzheimer’s disease early on and potentially open new doors to therapy and treatments. 

“This challenge will showcase the power of open science in breaking down barriers that slow innovation in the race to cure Alzheimer’s disease,” said Stephen Friend, President and Co-Found of Sage Bionetworks. “We believe our partnership with the CEOi in this fight will help to spur additional private sector actions and bridge the gap that exists between the private and public sectors." 

While there has been huge growth in scientific data due to declining costs and advances in technology, there remains very little crowd sourcing of findings among researchers. In recent years, however, pharmaceutical companies have shown an increased willingness to share pre-competitive data, as research and development has declined. This development has occurred alongside recent efforts by regulatory agencies to encourage data standardization, disclosure and sharing.

“The threat posed by Alzheimer’s and dementia requires a coordinated global effort and an emphasis on innovation driven by crowd sourcing epidemiological data,” said Sue Siegel, CEO of Healthymagination. “We hope the Big Data Challenge will act as a catalyst for new and innovative models that break new ground in Alzheimer’s pathology, and showcase the importance of data-sharing.”

The test data provided by ADNI will include results from imaging, clinical, whole genome sequencing and multiple cognitive tests that were conducted on a cohort of individuals who have aged normally, suffer from mild-cognitive impairment or have Alzheimer’s disease. The teams participating in the challenge will use the data to develop biomarker models using initial test set data, followed by model validation using similar data not made available to the teams.

The goal of the challenge is to create a roadmap of new Alzheimer’s disease predictive biomarkers. The participants will be evaluated by an independent, scientific advisory board that will award the model that best predicts cognitive scores using ADNI and outside data. The board will also award the team whose model performs best using only 100 variables. The winners of the challenge will be announced in 2014. 

“There are currently no disease modifying cures or treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, which speaks to the dire need to develop new biomarkers,” said Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson. “These biomarkers could serve as an invaluable tool to the research community, especially at a time when current levels of funding are low.”

More than 40 million people globally suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Today, the global cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s is $600 billion annually. In coming years, as more and more baby boomers reach the age of risk for the disease, those numbers are projected to skyrocket without a treatment to slow the progression or cure the disease. 

“Alzheimer’s and dementia pose a global health crisis on an unprecedented scale, yet there is still no global action plan to stop the disease,” said George Vradenburg, convener of the CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s disease, and chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s. “It is essential that we develop a global framework that unites government and business in a coordinated effort to increase innovation through real-time data sharing, so that we may discover a means of treatment and prevention for Alzheimer’s and dementia.” 


The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi) is an organization of private-sector leaders who have joined together to provide business leadership in the fight against Alzheimer’s. The CEO Initiative seeks to partner with public leaders to transform the disease from a social, health, and economic crisis into an opportunity for healthy aging and innovation in research and care. The CEO Initiative believes that, during this era of aging populations, it will take visionary, coordinated, goal-oriented leadership of public and private leaders working together to solve our greatest challenges. Learn more at:


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