DNA data-crunching contest draws Sanofi, NIH, others

A herd of 30 contestants has taken on the challenge of streamlining the interpretation of DNA data from three children with mysterious diseases. Boston Children's Hospital last week announced its contest, which includes some of the usual suspects in genomics with some notable absences. 

Next-generation sequencers decode DNA cheaply and quickly compared with a few years ago, but those data aren't as easily interpreted, slowing the flow of actionable genomics information into the hands of physicians and patients. Children's Hospital's contest asks entrants to tackle technical, standardization and presentation problems to provide doctors with reports with which they can make decisions.  

Nothing seems simple in DNA interpretation, including the name of the contest: Children's Leadership Award for the Reliable Interpretation and Transmission of Your Genomic Information--which has thankfully been shortened to "CLARITY." In addition to providing the sequencing data to contestants, Complete Genomics ($GNOM) and Life Technologies ($LIFE) are sponsoring the competition, and Children's Hospital is awarding $25,000 to the winning team based on the decision from a panel of judges. 

With a Sept. 30 deadline, contestants may have to sprint to the finish line with their submissions. Those contenders include some names familiar to FierceBiotechIT readers such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), BGI and NextBio. French drugmaker Sanofi's ($SNY) Cambridge, MA, group was the lone Big Pharma listed among the teams. As Bio-IT World pointed out, however, some of the biggest names in genomics such as the Broad Institute and the Genome Institute at the University of Washington aren't in the running.

For some contestants, the prize money offers less of an award than the recognition of winning. And their solutions could help diagnose three children with rare diseases of unknown causes.

- here's the release
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