Health TED Fellows

The Rare Disease Challenge: A $400K contest for research

Posted by: Shirin Samimi-Moore

In July, TED Fellow Jimmy Lin and his team discovered a gene mutation that might explain 4-year-old Maya Nieder’s rare developmental disease. After years of frustrating doctors and specialists’ visits, Maya’s family may be close to an answer, thanks to Lin’s brainchild — the Rare Genomics Institute.

Lin began RGI as place for patients with rare diseases to crowdsource funds for genetic testing.
But now, RGI is looking beyond identifying rare diseases and taking a step toward curing uncharted ailments.

RGI has teamed up with Assay Depot, a network of drug researchers attempting to connect pockets of knowledge, to hold the Rare Disease Challenge. This contest aims to further research into treatments, cures and even basic knowledge of unexplored illnesses. Applicants can be researchers, non-profits or advocacy groups and the winner will receive $400,000 from a slew of sponsors to underwrite their research.

“We are amazed by the generosity of so many companies offering their expertise, services, consulting and reagents to help advance rare disease research,” Lin tells PR Newswire, “We hope this gives a boost to rare diseases research and jump starts research in diseases that are otherwise not studied.”

The Rare Disease Challenge began accepting submissions on October 15, and will continue to until December 15. May treatment for Maya Nieder and others like her not be too far off.