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Crowdsourcing challenge gathers data on Alzheimer's

June 30, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi), Sage Bionetworks and DREAM Project are dreaming big about conquering dementia. The Alzheimer’s Disease Big Data DREAM Challenge #1, launched this month, is the first in a series of Alzheimer’s Data Challenges to leverage genetics and brain imaging in combination with cognitive assessments, biomarkers and demographic information from cohorts ranging from cognitively normal to mild cognitively impaired to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

The goal of this first challenge is to apply an open science or "crowd sourcing" approach to rapidly identify predictive Alzheimer's disease biomarkers that can be used to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Open sourced data from those living with Alzheimer's disease will be provided by the North American Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), Rush University Medical Center, and the United Kingdom’s AddNeuroMed Study, and will include results from imaging, clinical, whole genome sequencing, and multiple cognitive tests that were conducted on a cohort of individuals who have aged normally, suffer from mild-cognitive impairment or have Alzheimer’s disease.

Synapse, Sage Bionetworks' open computational platform, will be used so that participants can share data and work as teams online. The challenge will be objectively judged against data hidden from the participants.

More than two hundred bioinformatics experts from around the world have already signed up to participate.

“Alzheimer’s is more costly to society than cancer, yet there is currently no cure, treatment, or means of prevention” said George Vradenburg, Convener of CEOi and Chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s. “This unprecedented and innovative challenge will showcase the use of open science using 21st century tools, leading to a potential breakthrough for the Alzheimer’s research community.”