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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

This challenge is closed

stage:
Won
prize:
$14,500

This challenge is closed

Partners
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
Updates12

Challenge Updates

Congratulations to our winners!

Sept. 27, 2022, 11 a.m. PDT by Liz Treadwell

 

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to submit their ideas to the DNA Diversity Challenge, presented by Regeneron and Base11. The judging panel has reviewed the submissions and after deliberation have selected the following winners for the prizes:

Influencer Challenge – Prompt 1:

  • 1st Place:
    • Chanda Lowrance - A TikTok Campaign that Encourages Black Genomics.
      • This submission suggests using TikTok to post a short, 5 second clip about why they participate in genomics research, as well as motivating users to change their profile picture to encourage Black people to participate in genomic research.
  • 2nd Place:
    • CuriosityScience - The Trip of Tomorrow
      • This submission uses an illustrated real-world example to provide simple explanations to reasons why someone would be hesitant to participate in genomics research.

Collaboration Challenge – Prompt 2:

  • 1st Place:
    • Areahna O'Rea - Transforming Lives: It's In My DNA
      • This submission suggests placing pop-ups at Civil Rights Trail historical sites to educate individuals about genomics research and encouraging them to sign up for future research events, and/or collect samples at the sites themselves.
  • 2nd Place:
    • Janae McCloud - HBCU Partnership and African American Genomics
      • This submission details how connecting HBCU student health programs with Field of Study Curriculums will educate students outside of science majors as well as increase trust in genomics research.
  • 3rd Place:
    • Smrithi Chakravarthy - DNA Diversity: A Collaborative Focus Group Model
      • This submission details how partnering with representative, community-based focus groups across U.S. cities can build trust in genomics research.
    • Britnee Johnston - Promotional Recruitment Campaign of ResearchMatch
      • This submission recommends developing a partnership with NIH-sponsored platform, ResearchMatch, and creating a promotional campaign to recruit Black Americans to join the platform as volunteer research participants.
    • Gary Kawakami - The Roots Project
      • This submission proposes a program to partner with the African American community to accumulate an inventory of genomic data that will be useful in continuing research and development of genetics research, while providing each participant with their genetic heritage – their own individual version of “Roots”.

The ideas and proposals presented by the winners will help 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.

If you wish to learn more about the winners and their solutions, be sure to join the 2022 Next Frontier Conference & Expo: Future in Focus, hosted by Base 11 on November 9 and 10. You can register for it here.

In the meantime, join us in congratulating the winners by leaving a message in the comments section below.

 


Winner Announcement - Coming Soon!

Sept. 7, 2022, 1:06 p.m. PDT by Liz Treadwell

 

We are wrapping up the judging stage of the DNA Diversity Challenge and plan on announcing the winners for the Influencer and Collaboration prompts on Tuesday, September 27th. Thank you to everyone for your patience and excitement regarding the conclusion of this challenge!


Thank You for your Submissions

July 27, 2022, 2:30 p.m. PDT by Lulu

Just like that, it’s over! Thank you to all of you who sent in submissions. We can’t wait to finally see what you’ve been working so hard on. 

Crowdsourcing would be nothing without the crowd — that’s you! Thank you for being an indispensable part of this process, and using your brainpower for the greater good. Thank you!


Eight Hours Left

July 27, 2022, 6 a.m. PDT by Lulu

You now have less than a day left to submit your quick pitches or detailed proposals. Now’s the time to make final changes and send it off!

Please remember that the deadline is 5pm Eastern Time. We don’t accept any late submissions, so do your best to get it in ahead of time.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with! Best of luck.


One Week Warning

July 20, 2022, 1 p.m. PDT by Lulu

This is your one week warning! The final submission deadline is 5pm on July 27th Eastern Time (New York/USA). No late submissions will be accepted, so make sure to give yourself plenty of buffer time.

If there’s anything you’re unsure about, there is still time to ask for help. Post on the discussion forum or leave a comment on this post. We’ll keep an eye out for your questions.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on. Best of luck finishing up your submissions!


Forum4
Teams149
FAQ
Influencer Challenge - Prompt 1
Collaboration Challenge – Prompt 2