Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative Announces $100,000 Innovation Challenge






First Open-Source Challenge to Target Male/Female Differences in Early Cognitive Decline

Washington, DC (April 30, 2013)— The Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative last night launched the 2013 Geoffrey Beene Global NeuroDiscovery Challenge at the Society for Women’s Health Research Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC.  It is the Foundation’s second innovation challenge, but the first to ask solvers to identify male/female differences in early cognitive decline, to promote earlier interventions for both women and men. Winning submissions will share $100,000 in prize awards.

The Challenge is being launched in support of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s, a new network of prominent women leaders nationwide working to speed up the pace of Alzheimer’s research. Trish Vradenburg, co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, and a founder of WA2, thanked “Geoffrey Beene for launching a challenge that supports WA2’s lead research agenda.”

“Women are two-times at risk for Alzheimer’s because we outlive men, but we know little about other possible male/female differences. It’s time to find out if what’s true in cardiovascular disease with different diagnostics and treatment of men and women is also true for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Meryl Comer, President and CEO of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative, and a founder of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s.

“We are delighted to join the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative in issuing this challenge, which opens a critical window into our understanding of this devastating disease," said Maria Freire, PhD, President of the FNIH, which manages the partnership for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a significant study of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease that is one of the great success stories of NIH National Institute on Aging and private-sector funding.

Technical support for the Challenge is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA, one of the 27 institutes and centers of NIH, leads the ADNI public-private partnership and supports the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC), two databases the Challenge invites applicants to mine.  Submissions for this challenge are not limited and open to research databases from all other areas of disease research.

“Men and women’s brains are different structurally and functionally,” said Phyllis Greenberger, MSW, President and CEO of the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR). “Studying the science of sex differences will transform our understanding of neurological disorders in men and women, and will accelerate better prevention and treatments.”

Other collaborators to help get out the word about the Challenge to young investigators include: Institute of Medicine (IOM), WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s, 21st Century BrainTrust™, BrightFocus Foundation™, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

“Alzheimer’s take a huge toll—in disability, mortality and cost—on patients, families and our health care system, and yet we have no effective ways to treat or prevent it,” said Judith Salerno, MD, Executive Officer of the IOM and former Deputy Director of NIA. “Understanding gender differences in Alzheimer’s disease may give us insights that help reduce its burden on men and women alike.”

“This initiative would channel the enormous talent of early-career scientists to address an important issue and potentially discover whether or how gender differences play a role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Stacy Pagos Haller, President and CEO of BrightFocus™ Foundation. 

About the Challenge:

Proposals will be accepted from April 29 through August 31, 2013, at 5:00 PM Eastern. A distinguished panel of judges—including Marietta Anthony, PhD, Former Director, Women’s Health Programs, Critical Path Institute, Howard Fillit, MD, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, Florence Haseltine, MD, PhD, Founder, Society for Women’s Health Research, Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, Pfizer Inc., Peter Rabins, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Alan Russell, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University, Scott Small, MD, Columbia University, and Kate Zhong, MD, Cleveland Clinic—will review submissions for scientific merit and innovation. Up to five finalists will receive awards of $10,000 or more. From those, one winning solution will be chosen to receive $50,000, announced in late fall 2013.

Powered by INNOCENTIVE® and Galileo Cosmos™

The 2013 Geoffrey Beene NeuroDiscovery Challenge is powered by Innocentive®, a global leader in crowdsourcing innovation problems to the world’s best minds who compete to provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy, scientific, and technical challenges.   

Finalists will be able to access the data (where permitted), using Galileo Analytics’ Galileo Cosmos™, a visual data exploration and advanced analytics platform. Based on a computer architecture used by Wall Street to gain milliseconds of speed in online trades, Galileo Cosmos™ enables researchers to quickly test, refine, validate their hypotheses, and visually discover new patterns within data - without the need to seek external IT support or wait weeks for programmers to produce rounds of query results. Galileo Cosmos™ supports the Challenge goal to help speed the rate of discovery and innovation in Alzheimer’s data research. 


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From 2000 to 2010, Alzheimer’s deaths rose 68%. In addition to the enormous physical and emotional burden on patients, families and caregivers, the disease is also costly. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the U.S. cost up to $215 billion annually, according to a new RAND Corporation study funded by the NIH National Institute on Aging and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Around 70% of the cost of care—or $142 billion—is paid by Medicare and Medicaid. By 2050, the costs to Medicare and Medicaid are expected to increase more than 500%. In addition, this year more than 15 million Americans, mostly women, will provide unpaid care for Alzheimer’s patients valued at more than $216 billion.

About the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative

The Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative (GBFAI)launched in 2007 as a major charitable beneficiary of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation – to fight Alzheimer’s.  GBFAI is a philanthropic, not for-profit 501(c)(3), committed to providing catalyst funding to innovative new projects that advance awareness, diagnosis and research in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Contributions in excess of $4.8 million have been made to support groundbreaking awareness programs and next generation research in early diagnostics. Its contributions include catalyst funding for the Alzheimer’s Prevention RegistryGeoffrey Beene’s Rock Stars of Science™ campaign (owned and produced by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation), marquis sponsorship of HBO’s, “The Alzheimer’s Project” documentary series, co-sponsorship of the Alzheimer’s Challenge 2012, the 2013 Geoffrey Beene Global NeuroDiscovery Challenge, and co-founder of the 21st Century BrainTrust™.

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