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X Prize Foundation Offers $2,500 Prize to Improve Bioinformatics Protocols

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This week, the X Prize Foundation kicked off a competition intended to improve the validation protocols that will be used to select the winner of the Archon Genomics X Prize — a project that will award $10 million to the first team to sequence 100 whole human genomes to a high degree of accuracy in 30 days or less.

To win the $2,500 cash prize for the bioinformatics competition, contestants will compete in four challenges that call for feedback, in the form of comments, on ways to refine and improve the current bioinformatics pipeline that is being developed for the Archon Genomics X Prize. Contestants can participate in as many challenges as they choose.

Grant Campany, the senior director and prize lead for Archon Genomics X Prize, told BioInform that participants can access a beta version of the software — which scores genomic sequences against a reference — as well as two datasets from a public wiki that also includes technical details required for participation in the competition.

Contestants aren’t required to submit the results of their internal analysis, Campany said.

“The idea here is for people to dig in and …understand what it is we’ve done and whether or not they can potentially propose better alternative ways” of validating the results, he said. Furthermore, since this pipeline is “the first of its kind … for this purpose … we want to make sure that we haven’t missed something.”

Participants are expected to submit comments that provide insight into potential false positives and negatives; suggest improvements to variant representation and assessment; and suggest more refined approaches for unifying variant calls as well as refinements to the software itself.

The contest is divided into two phases: phase one will run from Sept. 12 until Nov. 27; and a second phase will begin on Nov. 28 and end on Dec. 7.

In the first phase, participants can submit multiple comments via a public forum. In the second round, the X Prize Foundation will select a subset of the submitted comments that will be presented to the scientific community and put to vote to determine the winner.

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