Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge Semifinalists Announced

Although they will receive $50,000 each to develop their concepts into prototypes, anyone can submit a prototype to compete in the second phase of the challenge to win up to $100,000.

Ten semifinalists have been selected in the first phase of the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge, a federal prize competition that will award up to a total of $20 million in prizes, subject to the availability of funds, the National Institutes of Health announced this week. The competition is for innovative and rapid point-of-need diagnostic tests to combat the emergence and spread of drug-resistant bacteria; the semifinalists were selected from among 74 submissions.

Although they will receive $50,000 each to develop their concepts into prototypes, anyone can submit a prototype to compete in the second phase of the challenge to win up to $100,000.

For more information on the semifinalists, visit

Submissions of prototypes and analytical data for the second phase are due Sept. 4, 2018, and as many as 10 finalists will be selected on Dec. 3, 2018. Each may receive up to $100,000 and their submitted prototypes will be evaluated in the third phase of the competition by two CLIA-certified independent laboratories. Prototype performance in this evaluation will be the basis for selection of the final winners -- up to three winners are expected to be announced on July 31, 2020, to share an amount up to $20 million, subject to the availability of funds.

The diagnostic tests being sought in this competition identify and characterize antibiotic-resistant bacteria or distinguish between viral and bacterial infections to inform treatment decisions and reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics, which is a major cause of drug resistance. "We were quite pleased with the number of new and innovative concepts we received for this first phase of the competition," said Robert W. Eisinger, Ph.D., special assistant for scientific projects in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Office of the Director. "The response underscores the level of importance the scientific community places on this critical issue."

The prize is sponsored by two U.S. Department of Health and Human Services components, the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. "Diagnostics that are fast, accurate, and easy to use are critical to address antibiotic resistance that could imperil not only each person's health, but also our nation's security from natural and intentional threats," said BARDA Director Rick Bright, Ph.D. "The exciting technology envisioned by our challenge's semifinalists may help us put better tools at the patient's side."

The semifinalists are:

  • Antimicrobial Resistance Rapid, Point-of-Need Diagnostic Test Challenge: Richard Anderson, Becton, Dickinson and Company, Franklin Lakes, N.J.
  • Breath volatile metabolites for the rapid identification of pneumonia etiology: Sophia Koo, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
  • First Light's MultiPath platform" Don Straus, First Light Biosciences, Inc., Bedford, Mass.
  • Host gene expression to classify viral and bacterial infection using rapid multiplex PCR: Ephraim Tsalik, Duke University
  • Minicare HNL, Point-of-care detection of bacterial infections to curb unnecessary use of antibiotics: Joe Frassica, Philips North America, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Patient-side, disposable, molecular PCR diagnostic device for STI and Antimicrobial Resistance Detection: Gregory Loney, Click Diagnostics, Inc., San Jose, Calif.
  • Rapid AMR Test using Spectral Platforms' Technology: Ravi Kant Verma, Spectral Platforms, Monrovia, Calif.
  • Ultra-Rapid Phenotypical AST by Microbe Mass Measurement: Ken Babock, Affinity Biosensor, Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Transcriptional Profiling to Distinguish Bacterial and Viral Respiratory Infection: Ann Falsey, University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Yale's One Step, Rapid in vitro Diagnostic System: Ellen Foxman, Yale University

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