NIGMS Challenge Contest: Tracing Basic Research to Medical Advances—Submission Instructions

Note: This is an archived page that is not updated. The submission period for this challenge has ended.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical research agency of the Federal Government, announces a challenge to track medical advances stemming from NIGMS-supported basic science.

The mission of NIGMS is to support basic, non-disease-targeted research that increases understanding of life processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. NIGMS-funded researchers seek to answer important scientific questions in order to increase our knowledge about the mechanisms and pathways involved in diseases and develop new tools and techniques that have medical applications.

NIGMS' strategic plan states that one of its goals is to "advance awareness and understanding of the basic biomedical research enterprise, including its value, requirements, and potential impact." This can be difficult because the path between basic discoveries and their applications is often long, and the connections can be hard to track.

NIGMS seeks your help in providing examples of one or both of the categories below.

  • Major advances funded by NIGMS that have led to improvements in human health, well-being or other tangible benefits to the public and/or economy.
  • Applications in medicine, industry, technology or elsewhere that have their roots in NIGMS-funded research projects. Examples include commonly used diagnostics, therapeutics, devices or technologies used in medical, industrial, agricultural or other fields.

NIGMS support must have played a major/critical role in one or more of the underlying discoveries, but a history of continuous or exclusive NIGMS support is not required.

Our goal is to identify past advances that are serving to improve human health and well-being and not on ongoing studies that may have a major impact in the future. We will use these examples to help us fill out the historical context of scientific breakthroughs and NIGMS' role in supporting them. These examples will augment our ongoing efforts to link advances in human health, well-being and economic growth to taxpayer-supported basic research.

General Requirements

Your entry must contain the following information:

  1. Your name, address, phone number(s) and e-mail address.
  2. A title that identifies the scientific advance(s) and application(s).
  3. A summary of no more than 250 words. The summary must:
    • Identify the advance and
    • Cite the NIGMS-funded project(s).
  4. A submission that describes the impact of the advance on people's lives. The impact could include improvements in human health, well-being or other tangible benefits to the public and/or economy.

    Submissions are limited to 2,500 words and should be clearly written in English, substantially free of scientific jargon and understandable by readers without scientific or technical backgrounds. A submission should include:

    • A brief historical background that puts the research in context. For example, why were scientists studying the system(s)? What were the most pressing research questions in the field at the time? What was already known prior to the key discovery? Were there competing hypotheses?
    • The advance(s), the researchers most responsible for them and the relevant NIGMS-funded projects that supported the work. Include references to seminal papers.
    • An explanation of how the advance(s) led to the application(s). Reference relevant papers, collaborations, synergies or other factors that catalyzed the development of the application(s). Include the role of other funding sources.
    • A description of the impact of the application(s) on people's lives. If possible, provide quantitative information on economic impact and/or return on investment. Measures could include reduced mortality, reduced health care costs, improvements in quality of life, tangible contributions to the U.S. economy, etc.

You may submit more than one entry. However, the advances(s) and application(s) described in each entry must be distinct. If you submit entries that are substantially similar, we may disqualify the later entries or require you to choose one entry to enter into the Challenge. Your entry may be disqualified if it is primarily promotional (i.e., if it promotes a product, service or company).

By submitting an entry, you warrant that it is your original work and is factually correct. You further warrant that your entry does not violate any intellectual property rights (including any statutory or common law trademark, copyright or patent), any privacy right or any other person's or entity's rights.

Optional Video

You may include a link to a public or unlisted video on or with interviews or other material best displayed by video. Your entry may be disqualified if your video is primarily promotional (i.e., if it promotes a product, service or company).

If you submit a video, it must:

  • Be no longer than 5 minutes. Any part of a video exceeding 5 minutes will be ignored.
  • Not include music or other copyrighted material unless you have written permission to use such material.
  • Not include proprietary information.
  • Remain posted on YouTube or for at least 1 year after the Challenge closes. Your video (or the link to it) may be displayed publicly on the NIGMS Web site.

You must obtain consent to post the video online from anyone appearing in your video. If a minor appears in your video, you must obtain consent from the minor's parent or legal guardian.

Challenge Submission Period

  • Challenge Submission Period begins: July 21, 2014
  • Challenge Submission Period ends: October 20, 2014

How to Enter

Submit entries via e-mail to

Submission Requirements

  1. To be eligible to win this Challenge, entrants must provide access to any referenced material that supports the submissions. This includes but is not limited to private papers, interview transcripts, etc.
  2. All submissions must be available for evaluation by October 20, 2014, for judging purposes.
  3. Once a submission is made, the entrant cannot make any changes or alterations to any part of the submission.
  4. Submission must not infringe any copyright or any other rights of any third party.
  5. A submission may be disqualified if is determined to be historically inaccurate or primarily promotional.
  6. Entrants will retain all intellectual property ownership in their submissions.
  7. Entrants agree that NIGMS may freely use the ideas and information in their submission in any way it deems appropriate.

Submissions will be available on the NIGMS Web site for the free use and download by the public for a period starting with the announcement of the winners through at least 1 year later. In addition, you give NIGMS the right to use the submission in subsequent materials and other outlets.

Eligibility of Entrants

The Challenge is open to individuals or teams of individuals who are all at least 18 years old at the time of entry. An individual may be a member of more than one team. The Challenge is also open to organizations. The Challenge is limited to organizations/individuals that are either: an American domestic corporation or other legal entity that also maintains its primary place of business in the United States, or in the case of individuals, U.S. citizens or permanent residents. NIH and NIGMS employees, contractors and their immediate families are not eligible.

Judges and Winner Selection

Submissions will be judged by a qualified panel selected by NIGMS. The panel will evaluate and select winning submissions based on the following judging criteria:

  • Quality, clarity and historical accuracy (data are presented accurately),
  • Impact of the advance on people's lives,
  • Impact of NIGMS funding on generating the advance, and
  • Originality, i.e., the submission cannot have been previously published.

Winning entrants will be notified by e-mail once judging is complete.

Winners and Recognition

Winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements of these official rules. The Challenge will have no more than 10 winning entrants. The name, city, state and submission of winning entrants will be posted on or after December 4, 2014, on the NIGMS Web site. Winning entrants will also be honored by an award of $500 and recognition on the NIGMS Web site and other outlets.

If two or more submissions describe the same general advance and are judged to be equally meritorious, the prize will go to either the earliest entrant or the prize will be split among the entrants at the discretion of the judges.

Entry Conditions

By entering, each entrant agrees to comply with and be bound by these official rules and the decisions of NIGMS and/or the Challenge judges, which are binding and final in all matters relating to this Challenge.


Except where prohibited, participation in the Challenge constitutes consent by the entrants to allow NIGMS or contractors to the use of winners' names, likenesses, photographs and/or hometowns and states for publicity purposes in any media, worldwide, without further payment or consideration.

General Conditions

NIGMS reserves the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the Challenge, or any part of it, as determined by NIGMS at its sole discretion. NIGMS also reserves the right to use any material submitted in response to this Challenge (whether or not chosen as a winning entry) in subsequent publications and publicity activities. NIGMS also reserves the right to edit and modify submissions for clarity and style. The submitter agrees to respond to any questions arising from the editing process.


If you choose to provide NIGMS with personal information, that information will be used to respond to you in matters regarding your submission and/or the Challenge only. Information is not collected for commercial marketing. Please read the Chall​enge​.gov Privacy Policy for complete information.


National Institute of General Medical Sciences, 45 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892

Questions and More Information

Questions about the Challenge can be sent to

For more information, see our FAQs.