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Precision Medicine is Coming: How Harvard and Topcoder Challenges Seek to Impact Billions

In a 2011 algorithm challenge, Topcoder – and the very notion of crowdsourcing difficult genetics-based challenges – delivered an incredible result. In a challenge with our partners at Harvard, focused on improving an existing DNA sequence alignment algorithm, dubbed MegaBLAST, a 2-week long Topcoder Marathon Match (our long form algorithmic challenges), resulted in a 976x increase to the computational speed v. the original algorithm. The winning solution also increased the accuracy. This was a smashing success, powered by you, our amazing Topcoder members.

Since that watershed moment, Topcoder has continuously been used by top enterprises, government agencies, and academia to advance critical data solutions in biotech and bioagriculture (amongst the many industries we work in). The success of MegaBLAST has triggered strategic partnerships at the Crowd Innovation Lab at Harvard to advance precision algorithms in medicine.

Since 2011, incredible strides in the field of precision medicine have been made, and now the Crowd Innovation Lab at Harvard, along with the Broad Institute and the Kraft Foundation are launching a series of algorithm challenges on Topcoder that will seek to advance the industry further. Precision medicine is the future of healthcare, and these challenges have the potential to impact billions of people. Once again, we’re asking you, our Topcoder members to register for these ambitious challenges, to compete, and to help deliver amazing algorithmic solutions.

New Topcoder Marathon Matches Focused on Advancing Precision Medicine

A series of at least three brand new algorithmic challenges (Topcoder Marathon Matches) will be launching over the course of the next few months. The first challenge begins later this month in mid-March.

To share with you all the detail you will need, we’ve created this educational microsite so you can learn more about precision medicine, the challenge series itself, and of course we’ve provided you an easy path to register for the upcoming challenges.

The Details You Need to Participate in Topcoder Marathon Match DNAS1

This match is tentatively scheduled to kick off on Thursday March 17th at 1PM EST and will run until March 31 at 1PM EST

  • There is $18,000 in total prizes available for the Topcoder community to win
  • You can pre-register for the match right here which will provide you key updates, email reminders as well as automatically register you when the challenge goes live!

The Objective of the First Precision Medicine Topcoder Challenge – DNAS1

The basic task for DNA alignment matches short strings of letters to longer strings. The first challenge requires participants to increase the speed of an existing solution on a much larger scale and respond properly to DNA variations and errors.

Again, the microsite has more information for you and by registering for the first challenge in this series you will gain access to the full specification when the challenge goes live.

We’d like to thank our partners at the Crowd Innovation Lab at Harvard, the Broad Institute and the Kraft Foundation for helping us bring this important challenge series to our dedicated and growing Topcoder community!

To all Topcoders who will compete, best of luck to you! Billions of lives can be impacted through advances in precision medicine and we’re excited to see your solutions!