20 May 2016

MatchMiner Wins Harvard Business School Kraft Precision Trials Challenge


BOSTON—Today marks International Clinical Trials Day, the day Scottish physician James Lind conducted the first clinical trial in 1747 aboard the HMS Salisbury of Britain’s Royal Navy. His systematic trial, which lasted six days and consisted of 12 sailors who were grouped into pairs and given a variety of oranges and lemons, developed the theory that citrus can cure the deadly disease scurvy. Through Lind’s pioneering idea, the importance of research in health care became a standard for drug discovery.

In honor of Lind’s work and the evolution of clinical trials, Harvard Business School (HBS) is pleased to announce today that MatchMiner has been named the winner of the HBS/Kraft Precision Trials Challenge. The Precision Trials Challenge is an online competition to generate ideas on how to bring precision diagnostics and therapies to market faster by reinventing the clinical trials process.

“The depth and breadth of applications was impressive,” said Harvard Business School professor Robert Huckman, Faculty Chair, HBS Health Care Initiative. “Across topics ranging from identifying patients for targeted enrollment and matching biomarkers with off-label uses of drugs to conducting ‘N-of-1’ trials and sharing data, it was clear from the entries that precision medicine holds promise for reinventing the clinical trials process. Among the many promising applications, MatchMiner’s stood out as an innovative approach for collecting patient-specific genomic data at the outset of treatment in order to match patients to trials that may be most promising for them."

MatchMiner will receive the $50,000 first prize and an opportunity to share their winning idea at the annual Personalized Medicine Conference (PMC) at Harvard Medical School, where the ideation challenge was first announced last year. Two runners-up were awarded $25,000 each for their innovative ideas.

MatchMiner: is an open computational platform developed at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for matching patient-specific genomic profiles to precision cancer medicine clinical trials.

Clinical Trials Co-Operative “No Patient Left Behind” set up patient-centric, biomarker-driven clinical trials cooperatives where companies participate and "buy in" with biomarker/drug pairs.

Using Patient-Specific Cancer Mutanome and Pharmacogenomics “iCare for Cancer” patient-specific avatars for predicting drug response, discovering new indications for older drugs, and forecasting new drugs.

The Precision Trials Challenge was led by Harvard Business School and key members of the Personalized Medicine Conference Organizing Committee, including Edward Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, and Raju Kucherlapti, the Paul C. Cabot Professor of Genetics and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. A panel of judges comprising clinical trials experts, precision medicine leaders, and influencers in biopharma, medical, science, and academic fields provided expertise throughout the selection process.

The Challenge was the first research pilot for the newly-created, HBS/Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator, launched with a $20 million gift from the Kraft Family Foundation. “It is exciting to see the potential for precision medicine, and we are happy to support the HBS/Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator and its first project, the Precision Trials Challenge,” commented Robert K. Kraft, president, Kraft Family Foundation. “We are proud to contribute to such important research, knowing that precision medicine will make life-saving, precision therapies available to all patients in the future.”

The Accelerator’s mission is to expedite solutions to key precision medicine issues and disseminate best practices and models to enable commercialization. “I’m excited and honored to launch the HBS/Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator to speed the pace of precision medicine breakthroughs. The Precision Trials Challenge is just the first of many new initiatives that the Accelerator will undertake,” said HBS professor Richard Hamermesh, Faculty co-chair, HBS/Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator. “There are a number of challenges to consider as precision medicine advances in the healthcare industry. Our next challenge will focus on data and technology and will address these important precision medicine business issues in the future.”

About the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation, Inc.:
The Kraft family, through its family Foundation, is committed to giving back to the community. The Foundation’s primary mission includes supporting education, health care, science, and the needs of underserved individuals by donating to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under Section 501 (c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The Foundation has primarily been funded by the generous donations of Robert K. Kraft, its president.


Cara Sterling
Director, Health Care Initiative
Harvard Business School

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.