Rare Disease Science Challenge Offers $400,000 in Cash & Services

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s Assay Depot, which operates an online marketplace for the life sciences industry, and the nonprofit Rare Genomics Institute say they have joined with 19 life sciences companies in creating a “Rare Disease Science Challenge.”

The sponsoring organizations are offering as much as $400,000 in laboratory services, technology, and other resources—along with a $10,000 cash prize for the winning proposal. Guidelines call for researchers at nonprofit institutions to submit an online proposal for conducting research into a rare disease. Submissions will be evaluated by an expert scientific panel, which may award one or more donated services needed for the scientists to carry out the work. The deadline for submitting proposals is Dec. 15.

Top proposals selected by the panel also will be eligible on Facebook for voting by the rare disease community for the $10,000 prize. Finalists will be announced on Feb. 28, 2013, World Rare Disease Day.

Organizers say rare diseases affect over 25 million Americans, yet less than five percent of the 7,000 known rare diseases have any therapy. The Rare Genomics Institute, based in St. Louis, provides an expert network and an online crowdfunding mechanism to help families design and fund research in diseases that would not otherwise be studied.