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HBS Launches New Competition to Improve Precision Medicine Clinical Trials

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$1.5 billion and more than a decade of trials—that’s what it takes for a typical precision medical therapy to gain FDA approval. The Health Care Initiative at Harvard Business School (HBS), an alliance of MBA students, alumni, faculty and practitioners, is hoping to drastically reduce both the time and expense of getting innovative therapies to market with a new competition designed to reimagine the clinical trials process.

Precision medicine, a growing movement in patient care, allows scientists and physicians to use genomic and other information to understand diseases based on their biological mechanisms, enabling them to precisely diagnose and develop tailored treatments. The Precision Trials Challenge, announced today, invites ideas from the medical, science, business and patient communities for ways to reinvent the clinical trials process. The goals? More rapid innovation, better targeted medicine and more effective treatments.

HBS is leading the charge as opposed to, say, Harvard Medical School, because the greatest challenges facing precision medicine are business challenges, according to HBS Professor Richard Hamermesh. “How can we develop business models that support the advancement of precision medicine? How can we get new 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,” he said in a statement.

The competition is open to anyone, and applications will be accepted until March 13, 2016. One winner and two runners-up—chosen by a panel of judges—will share $100,000 in prizes, and the winner will get to present his or her idea at the 2016 Personalized Medicine Conference. A winner will be announced in April.

Funding for this new competition comes from the Kraft Endowment for Advancing Precision Medicine, established last fall by a $20 million gift from the Kraft Family Foundation under the leadership of its president, Robert K. Kraft. Myra Kraft, Robert’s wife, died of ovarian cancer in 2011, and the family hopes through its support to help save others’ lives by accelerating breakthroughs in precision medicine.

Learn more about the new HBS Precision Trials Challenge.