Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Essay Challenge
2021 Essay Challenge
The Health Research Alliance (HRA) and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) have partnered to launch the Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Essay Challenge.
The biomedical research enterprise experienced a year of reckoning in 2020. Global cooperation to create a COVID-19 vaccine at an unprecedented pace shows the promise of research. Yet the pandemic, the resulting economic and social uncertainties, and the urgency of addressing systemic racial and regional inequities all add to longstanding concerns about the sustainability of the biomedical research enterprise. We need a new vision for a healthier future. The Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Essay Challenge is your opportunity to propose systemic changes that re-commit to serving society and achieving an equitable, diverse, and creative environment for all those working to advance scientific discovery and improve human well-being.
We invite you to submit a 1500-word essay following these submission guidelines. The winning essay will be published in either PLOS Biology or PLOS Medicine, and will also receive a US$5000 prize. There will also be recognition for up to four essays receiving honorable mentions.
We encourage you to think critically about the current state of biomedical research, globally. We hope our challenge stimulates you to confer with colleagues and consider submitting an individual or multi-authored essay that will propose and elaborate new ideas addressing the challenges for the field – for example:
● Innovative ways to move away from contemporary and reductive metrics of success and towards efforts that measurably improve everyday lives (e.g. advances in diagnostics, therapy, drug discovery, health services, and novel solutions to reduce health inequities).
● Bold ideas to realign incentives for behaviors that advance discovery, support healthcare decision makers, and benefit society.
● New ways to frame transparency and rigor as Open Scholarship values, not just checklists or hurdles, to improve societal trust in science.
● Strategies to build an equitable, open, and transparent research ecosystem that values, empowers, and nurtures diversity.
● Approaches that depend on creativity and innovation and not on the need for “more” (e.g. more money, more data, more publications, etc.)
Winner, and Honorable Mentions
The winning essay judged to have the most potential for inspiring change will be published either in PLOS Biology or PLOS Medicine, whichever is deemed by PLOS the most appropriate venue for the essay. It will also be awarded US$5,000.
Up to four essays will be recognized by an honorable mention, and these will be published on the PLOS Blogs Network and will each receive a US$2500 prize.
The authors of the winning essay, and authors from honorably mentioned essays, will be invited to present their ideas in a Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Symposium hosted by HRA and PLOS in September 2021.
Deadline: March 11, 2021
This date is the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic. It has been chosen to honor those who have experienced so much suffering during this pandemic, and to help convey the real-world importance of this reimagining.
We welcome essay submissions from individuals or from teams, noting that diverse perspectives are critical to solving our most pressing global challenges. Submissions will be considered from those working in academic, private sector, governmental, or non-profit institutions. Authors must commit to abiding by PLOS policies for publication which include Open Access publication under CC BY license, and editorial policies such as disclosure of competing interests. (See full submission guidelines.)
There is a 1500 word limit to keep essays succinct and to the point.
You should include a brief description of the problem you propose to solve, and devote the majority of the essay to the proposed solutions.
A panel representing HRA member organizations (HRA members) will score applications based on the review criteria outlined below, to create a shortlist of up to ten essays.
● Magnitude of the change envisioned
● Potential for achieving lasting impact and change
● Novelty and timeliness
● Diversity of thought and perspective
No single criterion outweighs another; all are important.
The review is being conducted by a two-stage process. The list of Stage One Reviewers can be found here. These reviewers have the hard task of sending a shortlist of essays to Stage Two Reviewers. We sincerely thank them for their time and the thoughtfulness they are devoting to selecting the essays that move forward to Stage Two.
The overall winner, and honorable mentions, will then be selected from this shortlist by Stage Two Reviewers, including:
● Maryrose Franko, Executive Director, Health Research Alliance
● Nonia Pariente, Editor-in-Chief, PLOS Biology
● Lara Bethke, Chief Scientific Officer, Health Resources in Action
● Sindy Escobar Alvarez, Program Director for Medical Research, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
● Susan M. Fitzpatrick, President, James S. McDonnell Foundation
● Lynne Garner, President, The Donaghue Foundation
● Marc Hurlbert, Chief Science Officer, Melanoma Research Alliance
● Judy Keen, Director of Scientific Affairs, American Society of Hematology
● Amy Laster, Vice President, Science and Awards Programs, Foundation Fighting Blindness
● Betsy Myers, Consultant, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
● Dawid Potgieter, Director, Programs in Discovery Science, Templeton World Charity Foundation
The panel reserves the right to reach out to other reviewers, in confidence, for input into the decision.
Before publication, the winning essay may be edited by a PLOS editor for length and style to conform to the PLOS journal format.