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Challenge Seeks Transformative Human/A.I. Research Tech

Illustration: Artificial intelligence with a human face

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay.

9 Nov. 2023. A new challenge competition with $1 million in prizes seeks novel techniques for conducting biomedical research with data on human physiology and artificial intelligence. The Complement ARIE challenge — Complement ARIE stands for Complement Animal Research In Experimentation — is sponsored by the NIH Common Fund and conducted for National Institutes of Health by the crowdsourcing company HeroX. Initial submissions are due by 11 Jan. 2024.

With this competition, NIH aims to generate fresh ideas for conducting research on health that takes advantage of rapidly advancing computational technologies such as artificial intelligence and proliferation of detailed data on human physiology. NIH’s Common Fund, the vehicle for financing initiatives that cut across the agency’s institute boundaries, calls these novel ideas New Approach Methodologies or NAMs. The Common Fund hopes the competition can reveal tools for complementing or replacing conventional research models, such as tests with lab animals, to provide precise answers to complex questions about human biology.

The Complement ARIE challenge asks individuals and teams to propose human-based NAMs that can transform the conduct of basic and clinical research. Participants are expected to provide NAMs as detailed solutions that cut across conventional scientific and engineering disciplines to harness computational techniques and microphysiological data to better understand the complexities of human health. In addition, NAMs proposed by participants should be validated with the goal of acceptance by regulatory bodies. The Common Fund expects to use NAMs generated by the competition for its strategic planning, and to model human health and disease across diverse populations.

Up to 20 top solutions receive prizes

The challenge has an accelerated submission and judging schedule that first asks participants to submit a 15-page white paper by 11 Jan. 2024. Proposals should outline new ideas for NAMs covering in-vitro or lab culture studies, as well as computer simulations called in-silico techniques, and studies of molecular interactions in cell-free environments known as in-chemico methods. In addition, participants need to demonstrate the integration of these NAMs, particularly using A.I. for outcomes such as predictive models, real-time data analysis, and population-level or individual patient digital twins.

The challenge guidelines provide details for the format and content of white papers, participation requirements, and judging criteria, plus full eligibility rules. After submission of white papers on 11 Jan. 2024, judges will review proposals through mid-February. Up to 20 top solutions, each receiving $50,000, are expected to be announced later in February.

“NAMs research is at a critical point,” says Douglas Sheeley, acting director of the Office of Strategic Coordination that oversees the NIH Common Fund, in a HeroX statement released through Cision, “where investment and collaboration between multiple sectors could help to enable widespread development and expansion in use of these new technologies.” Sheeley adds, “NAMs fit well as an area for Common Fund investment because they have the possibility to create advancements across broad swaths of biomedical research.”

HeroX is providing the crowdsourcing platform for the Complement ARIE competition. The 10 year-old company provides the mechanisms for conducting idea-generating exercises, such as challenge competitions, for companies and organizations needing crowdsourced solutions for identified problems or issues. In Sept. 2023, Science & Enterprise reported on HeroX providing part of the process for an NIH-sponsored challenge seeking early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias using analytics powered by artificial intelligence.

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