DTRA Biodefense Algorithm Challenge

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency/U.S. STRATCOM Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (DTRA/SCC-WMD) is sponsoring a new innovation challenge to enhance defense capabilities for threats posed by biological weapons.

The “DTRA Algorithm Challenge” is an open competition with a $1 Million prize for the individual or team that develops an algorithm which can most rapidly and accurately characterize a complex clinical sample based solely on raw DNA sequence data.  

As DNA sequencing technology evolves and moves out of the research lab and closer to the diagnostician’s desktop, DTRA is leaning forward to overcome the bottlenecks inherent to processing such information efficiently.

“The Algorithm Challenge will lead to an enhancement of DTRA’s capability to diagnose and treat biothreats to the U.S. Armed Forces by giving DoD the ability to process and analyze biological sequence data rapidly in a realistic, moderate-to-low resource setting,” said Dr. Christian Whitechurch, Chief of DTRA’s Diagnostic, Detection and Disease Surveillance Division. “DTRA believes an open innovation development strategy is most likely to quickly yield a set of disruptive solutions to the threats posed by known, emerging, or engineered pathogens.” 

Grading criteria for the algorithm revolves around the ability to: assess the data, however complete or limited; identity and quantify components; speculate with probability and justification when a positive identification is not possible; and make recommendations for further analysis.

Prize details and sequencing datasets will be made available in January 2013. For more information about the DTRA Challenge, visit http://www.innocentive.com/dtra.

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