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The DNA Diversity Challenge

Help Regeneron address health inequity by sharing your big ideas for increasing Black American participation in genetics research
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prize:
$17,500
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Overview

Challenge Overview

There is potential for all people to benefit from genomics research (the study of DNA and its relation to health and medicine).  However, you have the power bring the benefits of this cutting-edge research to the very people it can serve. One demographic with a low participation rate in genomics research is the African American community.  As a result of this–since researchers can only learn from the data they can access–genomics research has been historically limited to DNA profiles from the communities that do participate.

To bring the benefits of genomics research to African Americans, we are looking for new ideas on how to increase participation of African Americans in this field.  There are two ways to participate in and win this challenge. Visit the Guidelines here to read more about them.

 

The DNA Diversity Challenge (the “Challenge”) is sponsored by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Sponsor”). Regeneron is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Your new ideas can shape the way Regeneron and collaborators from across the healthcare, academic and nonprofit sectors bring their unique strengths together to increase health equity for African Americans through genomics research. . 

Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

 

The promise of genomics research

Genomics is the study of the ways genes interact with each other and the environment to influence a variety of traits and characteristics. Genes play an important role in virtually every aspect of human health and health outcomes, including infectious diseases and many complex conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. By contributing to better understanding of these relationships, genomics research is the foundation for advancements in medicines and healthcare. 

Increasing Black American representation in genomics research will directly contribute to medical advances and related health benefits for people with African ancestry. Bridging the barriers that keep participation low is one way to help achieve health equity for Black Americans. 

 

What’s the problem?

Research in human genetics has a complicated past. One legacy is that Black Americans are under-represented in genomics research. This leaves significant gaps in scientific knowledge, and contributes to current and future health disparities across different racial and ethnic groups. Intentional action is needed to change this dynamic. Regeneron is working with cross-sector collaborators to actively improve access to the benefits of genomic research for people of African ancestry. 

This Challenge focuses on three known factors that limit the participation of Black Americans in genomic research: access, awareness, and trust.

 

Access

Bias in medical research and trial design cause and perpetuate inequities. Research design influences who can or will participate in research. Studies are often designed to make things easy for researchers, while ignoring real-life hurdles for potential participants. This is one reason why Black Americans have been under-represented at all stages of DNA-related research, and in many cases not even asked to participate. 

 

Awareness 

Factual information about genomics research is not always available, or not communicated in ways that work for most people. Misinformation spreads easily, and can increase concerns about costs, safety, privacy, and worries about discrimination from insurers or employers. The benefits of genomics research are not always communicated in ways that are meaningful, leaving many people without compelling reasons to participate.

 

Trust 

It is not surprising that trust influences participation in genomics research. There are many examples of how research in human genetics has reflected and perpetuated racial injustice. Individuals, families and communities may share skepticism about how data will be stored, who will have access, and how information might be used now or in the future. Negative experiences with healthcare providers, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies also influence who is willing to participate in research, regardless of the potential benefits.

 

The DNA Diversity Challenge

Regeneron is working to improve medicine for all. Regeneron and its collaborator, Base 11, seek the help of young changemakers like you to increase the participation of Black Americans in genomics research by addressing any of these key known barriers: access, awareness, and trust. Your ideas will shape the ways Regeneron and collaborators from across the healthcare, academic and nonprofit sectors combine their unique strengths to support increased participation of Black Americans in genomics research. 

There are two ways to get involved:

Timeline
Updates5

Challenge Updates

Two Week Warning

June 16, 2022, 9 a.m. PDT by Lulu

This is your official reminder that you have two weeks left to submit your DNA Diversity solution!

Please remember that we don’t accept any late submissions. It’s a good idea to get 75% of your project done a full week before it’s due to allow time for troubleshooting.

Now is also the time to ask questions and seek help. To ask a question, post on the discussion forum or comment directly on this post. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Best of luck in the final stages of your project.


Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

June 7, 2022, 9 a.m. PDT by Lulu

Have you thought about forming a team to compete in the DNA Diversity Challenge?

At this point in the challenge, it’s normal to start feeling a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps you’ve hit a roadblock, or you’re noticing the gaps in your own skillset. Forming a team is a great way to overcome these hurdles.

It will take time to form a team, so start reaching out to people now. You can connect with people in the forum, or you can browse the whole HeroX community by specialization at https://herox.com/crowdsourcing-community.

Why form a team? 

1. Keep each other accountable

We all know that deadlines are tough, and it’s especially difficult to commit to a schedule by yourself. Creating checkpoints and milestones with your team members will help you keep each other on track.

2. Share skills

Everyone’s got a different set of skills. Have a great idea for a project, but need someone to help make it a reality? Got an innovative technical idea, but need help pulling it into an overall project? You need a team!

You can share expertise and specialized knowledge with your teammates. You’ll learn a ton, and your project will be all the better for it.

3. Reduce the workload

Why do all the work yourself? Divide and conquer the workload to save time and ease burnout. If you have an off week, your team can pick up the slack — and vice versa.

4. Make it fun

Your team will be by your side through all the highs and lows of the process, and they will make it all the more fun. This is also a great way to meet people with a shared set of interests. Just think, these may be your new best buds.


1 Month Remains!

June 1, 2022, 9 a.m. PDT by Lulu

We are just 1 month away from our submission deadline for the DNA Diversity Challenge!

This message is to remind you to complete and finalize your submission before the deadline at 5pm on June 30th Eastern Time (New York/USA). The HeroX platform is automated so your submission must be finalized before that date and time for it to be considered for the judging stage.

View a how-to video on completing your submission here.

If you have any questions regarding the competition, please don’t hesitate to ask us directly or leave a comment on the forum.

If you encounter any technical issues, please contact gethelp@herox.com


Learn more about the DNA Diversity Challenge!

May 11, 2022, 2 p.m. PDT by Despina Maliaka

Watch the below webinar to learn more about the challenge and get the answers to some common questions.

Have a question that we didn't answer? Comment in the ​forum and we'll get back to you with a response.


Get talking on the forum

May 4, 2022, 9 a.m. PDT by Lulu

Feeling stuck? Have questions, thoughts, or ideas about the challenge so far, and need a place to take them? That’s what the forum is for.

The forum is a great way to gain insights and generate ideas about different aspects of the challenge. Use the forum to ask questions, help out your fellow innovators, and maybe even make a few friends along the way. 

You can browse through the forum to see what people have already been saying. To ask a question, click “New Topic” and write out your message.

HeroX checks the forum regularly, so it’s a good way to touch base with us directly.

See you on the forum!


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