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Winners announced in the Elsevier Grand Challenge

Amsterdam, April 22, 2009 - Elsevier, a leading global healthcare and scientific publisher, has announced the winners of the Elsevier Grand Challenge ( The competition, launched in June 2008, invited researchers to prototype tools dealing with the ever-increasing amount of online life sciences information. The winners have been chosen by a distinguished panel of judges ( to represent the tools thought to be the most innovative and implementable: First place, a cash prize of $35,000, second place, $15,000.

The first and second prize winners were announced at the Experimental Biology ( conference in New Orleans and chosen from four finalist teams. Each of the four Grand Challenge finalists gave a demonstration of their tool and responded to questions from the panel of judges and an audience of life science researchers. They then answered questions from a live online audience of researchers attending virtually via the Elsevier Grand Challenge Q&A webinar. The judges announced the winning entries live on the webinar. Finalists are available for interviews on site at the Experimental Biology conference.

First prize winner: Sean I. O'Donoghue, Lars Jensen, Heiki Horn, Evangelos Pafilis, Michael Kuhn, Nigel P. Brown and Reinhard Schneider, EMBL Germany, for their project "Reflect: Automated Annotation of Scientific Terms"

Second prize winner: Vit Novacek, Tudor Groza and Siegfried Handschuh, DERI, Ireland, for their project CORAALDive into Publications, Bathe in the Knowledge

"I speak for the team when I say that we're all really happy and proud to have received the award," said O'Donoghue of the Reflect team. "The event has been fantastic stimulus to not only my team but all the teams here, and we plan to collaborate with quite a few of those teams."

"The tool has taken more than half a year to build," said second prize winner and Ph.D. student Vit Novacek. "It didn't exist when we heard of the competition, and we just thought of what we could do with our research skills. We started to build from scratch, and then we reworked the back end of the tool entirely after we got comments from the judges in the semi-final round. It's really exciting to work in such a dynamic manner."

"We are delighted to award the first and second prizes to Sean and Vit." remarked Dr. Eduard Hovy, Chair Panel of Judges and Director of the Natural Language Group, Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, "Their tools demonstrate thoughtful design, provide genuine and immediate improvements in scientific communication and point the way toward interesting new possibilities for the future. Given so many excellent submissions, it was very difficult to choose between the four finalists. All of the tools were developed with a strong sense of the community's needs."

"I was impressed not only with the quality of the tools the finalists developed, but with the atmosphere of collaboration," added Herman van Campenhout, CEO, Elsevier. "Though the teams were in competition with one another, they were very open with their ideas, and a real sense of community has developed around the Elsevier Grand Challenge. We feel, more than ever, that by listening to what researchers want, and by partnering with members of the community to co-develop tools to improve scientific communication, we can create some very innovative solutions together. It's quite a fresh approach."

"The most amazing outcome of the challenge, I believe, is that it has actually helped produce some very good science," commented Anita de Waard of Elsevier Labs, Researcher Disruptive Technologies and co-organizer of the Challenge. "It seems clear that there is no single solution to solving the information infarct in biology. Apart from helping develop some wonderfully innovative thinking about improved ways to publish and access science, the Challenge has already led to several collaborations between the participants. We hope the Challenge and our planned conference on the Future of Research Communication can stimulate the formation of a budding community to work on new ways of publishing science."


Contact: Anna Hogrebe

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