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Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future: Announcing Essay Challenge Winners and Symposium

Maryrose Franko, PhD, Executive Director, Health Research Alliance

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Matt Staley, Janelia Research Campus.

The biomedical research enterprise experienced a year of reckoning in 2020. Global cooperation to create a COVID-19 vaccine at an unprecedented pace shows the promise of research. Yet the pandemic, the resulting economic and social uncertainties, and the urgency of addressing systemic racial and regional inequities all add to longstanding concerns about the sustainability of the biomedical research enterprise.

Most of us in the biomedical research community agree — we need a new vision for a healthier future.

To help reimagine that future, the Health Research Alliance (HRA) and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) partnered to launch the Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Essay Challenge. We invited the community to submit ideas that re-commit to serving society and achieving an equitable, diverse, and creative environment for all those working to advance scientific discovery and improve human well-being.

Now, we are thrilled to announce the winners and honorable mentions of the challenge, who will all present their ideas at the Reimagine Biomedical Research for a Healthier Future Symposium to be hosted by HRA on September 23, 2021, from 12–1pm Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−04:00).

Congratulations to the two winning essays, published as perspectives in PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine:

And congratulations to the five honorable mentions:

Note: Four of the honorable mentions are posted on the PLOS Your Say blog, and one honorable mention is in press at a non-PLOS journal, and we’ll add that link retroactively as soon as it publishes.

We received close to 100 essays proposing a wide variety of ideas. The judging panel had a difficult time selecting essays, but eventually put forth those that were the most feasible, had high potential for impact, and would spark valuable discussion among the community.

We thank everyone who participated in the challenge. We also note that neither PLOS nor HRA necessarily advocate for the specific ideas outlined in the winning essays. However, we do agree that these seven pieces will foster a dialogue that could spur meaningful change within the biomedical research ecosystem. Ultimately, these changes should advance scientific discovery and ensure those advances have equitable impact.

To spark conversation and action, we encourage you to read the perspectives and the blogs, and to attend the symposium on September 23, 2021 prepared to ask questions of the authors.

Our goal is for the discussion during the symposium to stimulate action and change. Ideally, this effort will ultimately result in a more equitable and effective biomedical research ecosystem.

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