Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Symposium [September 2021]

Symposium Agenda:

Welcome and Intro to the Essay Challenge (Maryrose Franko, Executive Director, HRA)

Introduction of Honorable Mentions

Building a Diverse and Equitable Biomedical Research Ecosystem
Naira Abou-Ghali, Jenny Bratburd, Peter Myers, Megan Schroeder, Pawan Upadhyay

Closing the Great Divide: Bridging Research and Community
Sue-Ling Chang

Decolonizing STEMM Training for a Just Biomedical Research Future
Debra Karhson, Shaila Kotadia, (Drs. Karhson and Kotadia contributed equally to this essay), Taylor Jones IV, Jesse Isaacman-Beck, Eamon Byrne, Brenda Flores

Restructuring Diversity in the Biomedical Research Enterprise
Carlos Moreno

The Worth of a Scientist (in press at a non-PLOS journal)
Sophia George, Svasti Haricharan, Vidhya Munnamalai, Shreya Raghavan, Ayesha Saleem, Yvette Yien

Presentations by Essay Winners

Empowering grassroots innovation to accelerate biomedical research (PLOS Biology)
Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, Michael Rera, Edwin H. Wintermute, Katharina Kloppenborg, Juliette Ferry-Danini, Guy Aidelberg, Rachel Aronoff, Ariel Lindner, and Dusan Misevic

An open science pathway for drug marketing authorization–Registered drug approval (PLOS Medicine)
Florian Naudet, Maximilian Siebert, Rémy Boussageon, Ioana A. Cristea, and Erick H. Turner

Community Discussion


2021 Essay Challenge

Dear HRA Members,

I am excited to announce that the winners and honorable mentions from the Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future: Essay Challenge have now been posted.

  • The articles and links to the blog posts (including my intro blog) can be found here.
  • If you have a twitter account, feel free to retweet and comment on the main tweet thread (from which you can see all the threaded posts.)

The September 23rd date for the HRA-hosted public Symposium was also announced. During this Symposium the winners will present their ideas hopefully sparking discussion but more importantly, action. I encourage all HRA members to register for the symposium and invite others!

I sincerely appreciate the efforts of HRA members who reviewed the essays (details can be found here).  It was rewarding but still work outside your day jobs – so big thanks!

HRA would also like to thank:

  • JSMF for a grant that funded the essay prizes
  • ALTUM for the use of the ProposalCentral platform to run the submission and review processes
  • PLOS for partnering to publish the winning and honorable mention essays

Please forward this to your networks and retweet the PLOS tweets.  This is a big win for HRA!




The Health Research Alliance (HRA) and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) 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 invited the community to propose ideas for 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. Winning essays will be published in PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine. Honorable Mention Essays will be posted as PLOS Blogs.

To spark conversation and action, the authors of the winning essays have been invited to present their ideas in a Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Symposium hosted by HRA on September 23, 2021 from 12-1pm ET.

The Challenge
We encourage you to read the perspectives and the blogs while thinking critically about the current state of biomedical research, globally. Please bring to the symposium your thoughts about ways to reimagine biomedical research such as:

● 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.)

We hope these 7 essays and the discussion during the symposium stimulate conversation and action. Ideally, this effort will result in a more equitable and effective biomedical research ecosystem.

Essay Challenge Review Process
The review was conducted by a two-stage process.  The list of Stage One Reviewers can be found here. These reviewers had 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, were then 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