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FasterCures Rewards Two InnoCentive Solvers for Innovative Ideas to Accelerate Medical Research

Challenge Sought Ideas to Encourage Investment and Collaboration in Biomarker Research, Leading to Faster Medical Solutions

WALTHAM, Mass., March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- InnoCentive, Inc., the global open innovation marketplace, and FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, today announced that two InnoCentive Solvers have been awarded $5,000 each for solutions they submitted to a Challenge that FasterCures posted to InnoCentive's online network in September 2008. This Challenge sought novel approaches or incentives to reduce the first-mover disadvantage for companies to invest more in biomarker research and qualification, while not limiting their availability to others.

Biomarkers are an increasingly critical element in accelerating medical research, especially as the era of personalized medicine unfolds. A biomarker is "any characteristic that can be objectively measured and evaluated as an indicator of normal biological or pathogenic processes, or of pharmacological response to a therapeutic intervention" (Institute of Medicine, USA). Accurate and reliable biomarkers can shave years and millions of dollars from the research process. Biomarkers are also an example of a classic "first-mover disadvantage" where the first mover spends all the time and money to discover a biomarker, and its competitors reap the benefits. As a result, companies often patent the biomarkers they discover and utilize them in their own research, which can limit their benefit to the rest of the research community, despite the fact that biomarkers frequently have a very broad range of potential clinical and non-clinical applications.

FasterCures selected the two winning submissions from Steve Donoho, Ph.D. and Susan Levinson, Ph.D., following a review of 15 qualified proposals. Both ideas provided valuable insight into the Challenge and offered ways that FasterCures can spur movement in the biopharmaceutical field to develop faster and more effective medical treatments or cures, in a way that would limit the "first-mover" competition that currently exists.

News Highlights:

  • Both Dr. Donoho and Dr. Levinson, two of InnoCentive's large network of 170,000+ Solvers, provided innovative ideas on how to improve the biomarker process that will allow FasterCures to work toward encouraging biopharmaceutical companies to collaborate.
  • Dr. Steve Donoho has 15 years of experience architecting solutions for discovering interesting patterns in large quantities of data. Prior to starting Donoho Analytics, he was Director of Research at Mantas, a leader in delivering business intelligence to the financial services industry. His areas of expertise include fraud detection, money laundering detection, financial markets, banking and brokerage, healthcare, telecommunications, and customer analytics.
  • Dr. Susan Levinson is the founder and president of The Strategic Choice, a company that specializes in strategic projects and business planning for life sciences companies. She has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and has held leadership roles in marketing, licensing and business development, project management, drug discovery, development and strategic planning.
  • Medical professionals use biomarkers to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment for patients and they are seen as an important component of biomedical research, as they can save time and millions of dollars in the research and development process.
  • FasterCures is a non-profit organization focused on identifying and implementing global solutions to drive a faster and more efficient process for drug discovery and the clinical development of new therapies for the treatment of deadly and debilitating diseases.
  • This Challenge was posted in InnoCentive's Global Health Pavilion, a section of the Web site that focuses on Challenges that contribute to finding treatments and cures for some of the world's major diseases. It was also posted on the Public Policy and Citizens in Action Pavilion, which contains Challenges that seek creative approaches to current civic and political issues, from local community Challenges to those with far-reaching global impact.
  • Most recently, InnoCentive worked with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) to post a Challenge in this Pavilion seeking new approaches to AIDS vaccine design. The Challenge, with a $150,000 reward is currently accepting submissions through mid-April.


Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive, Inc.

"Accelerating the process by which biomarkers are discovered has the enormous potential to help medical researchers find treatments and cures to the diseases that afflict populations worldwide, as well as encourage more collaboration among organizations to benefit drug discovery. InnoCentive is pleased to work with FasterCures to apply the power of open innovation to explore new approaches for biomarker research. It is also rewarding to our Solvers who enjoy the opportunity to apply their expertise to make a difference."

Gregory C. Simon, President of FasterCures

"By participating in the open innovation process, we were able to gain new ideas and insights into a thorny challenge that currently inhibits innovation in biomedical research and slows progress towards medical advancements. We look forward to further developing these proposals and discussing them with other medical research stakeholders. One solution sought to apply a successful process that had been used in other spheres and another carefully addresses some of the challenges of existing public-private partnerships to foster biomarker research. We enjoyed the exercise and feel that it opened our eyes to new ways to address this issue."

Dr. Steve Donoho, InnoCentive Solver

"As biomarkers are such an important part of the medical research process, it was fulfilling to receive the notification that my idea would further support FasterCures in reevaluating the process. Working through InnoCentive on interesting and rewarding Challenges has been very satisfying."

Dr. Susan Levinson, InnoCentive Solver

"Having a broad set of experiences across the value chain of the pharmaceutical industry, as well as completing many problem-solving consultancy projects was key to addressing this Challenge. In addition, I have a passion for seeing the barriers to healthcare innovation reduced, so responding to this Challenge was simply fun! Being part of the solution to a problem like this is its own reward for someone who loves to solve problems."

About FasterCures

FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions is committed to saving lives by saving time in the research, discovery and development of new treatments for deadly and debilitating diseases. FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is nonpartisan, nonprofit and independent of interest groups. For more information, visit

About InnoCentive

Founded in 2001, InnoCentive built the first global web community for open innovation, enabling scientists, engineers, professionals and entrepreneurs to collaborate to deliver breakthrough solutions for R&D-driven organizations. InnoCentive Seekers, who collectively spend billions of dollars on R&D, submit complex problems to the InnoCentive Marketplace where more than 170,000 engineers, scientists, inventors, business people, and research organizations in more than 175 countries are invited to solve them. Solvers who deliver the most innovative solutions receive financial awards ranging up to US$1,000,000. InnoCentive's Seekers include commercial, government and non-profit organizations such as Avery Dennison, Procter & Gamble, Pendulum, Eli Lilly and Company, Janssen, Solvay, SAP and The Rockefeller Foundation.

For more information on InnoCentive, go to:

InnoCentive and InnoCentive Challenge are registered trademarks of InnoCentive, Inc. Other product or service names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

    For more information contact:

    Connie French
    InnoCentive Marketing Manager

SOURCE InnoCentive, Inc.
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