Harvard Business School Begins Precision Clinical Trials Challenge

Building on Harvard campus

Harvard Business School is aiming to improve opportunities for clinical trials with their new challenge.
Image: Shutterstock

Clinical research trials are one of the costliest and most time-consuming endeavors in the medical community. Each trial takes an investment of close to $1.5 billion and ten years to complete the process. Now, in an effort to make those statistics more practical and less painful, Harvard Business School has launched the Precision Trials Challenge, a competition where users can submit ideas to make clinical trials a better process. The challenge is open until March 13th, 2016, and a panel of judges will select one winner and two runners-up to share in a $100,000 prize.

Harvard Business School has produced a number of great thinkers like Salman Khan of the Khan Academy, Thom Weisel of Stifel Financial Corp., and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, so it’s not surprising that the school would create a challenge for innovations. “The Precision Trials Challenge aims to provide a roadmap for faster innovation, targeted medicine, and more effective treatments,” says Harvard Business School.

Clinical trials only see success 25% of the time. Part of the problems lie within the process itself. With so many different patients’ bodies and cancer variations as well as so many other variables, it’s incredibly difficult to come up with concrete test results for any medical trial. Add in the mess of false positives, and the odds for success become lower still.

These are some of the problems that Harvard’s Precision Clinical Trials Challenge hopes to correct. “Advancements in science and technology in the past ten years have led to great advances in precision medicine,” says Harvard Business School professor Richard Hamermesh. “However, many of the big challenges facing precision medicine today are actually big business challenges. How can we develop business models that support the advancement of precision medicine? How can we get therapies to market faster and at a lower cost?”

Our Precision Trials Challenge will help answer these questions by encouraging conversation and helping to put leading-edge ideas into practice,” Hamermesh added.

The Challenge is funded by a $20 million gift from the Kraft Endowment for Advancing Precision Medicine. Ideas can be submitted on the initiative’s website. A winner will be announced in April.


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