Overview of NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges
The 2018 NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges were launched to encourage innovative and catalytic approaches toward solving the opioid crisis by developing “A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration” (ASPIRE). Developed under the auspices of the Cures Acceleration Network, the NCATS ASPIRE program aims to accelerate the discovery and development of novel and effective treatments, while at the same time making the process faster and more cost-effective. Integrating advancements in computer-aided drug design, automated synthetic chemistry and high-throughput biological screening, the ASPIRE program will provide a new opportunity to break the translational bottlenecks in chemistry and benefit many areas of science and human health.
Through the ASPIRE Design Challenges, NCATS is using the ASPIRE platform to support the National Institutes of Health (NIH) HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative, a transagency effort focused on improving prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction and enhancing pain management. Launched in April 2018 with funding from Congress, the HEAL Initiative brings new hope for people, families and communities affected by the national opioid public health crisis.
The goal of the ASPIRE Design Challenges is to propose innovative and catalytic approaches toward solving the opioid crisis through the development of next-generation addiction-free analgesics with new chemistries, data-mining and analytical tools and technologies, as well as biological assays that will revolutionize discovery, development and preclinical testing of new and safer treatments of pain, opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose. This prize competition was implemented through a suite of concurrent companion design challenges in four areas: an integrated chemistry database, an electronic synthetic chemistry portal, predictive algorithms and biological assays, as well as an additional challenge for a combined solution for two or more areas. NCATS will select up to five winners for Challenges 1–4 and up to two winners for Challenge 5 to receive cash prizes.
NCATS will continue the 2018 NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges with a distinct follow-up, the 2019 Reduction-to-Practice Challenge, which will aim to reward further scientific and technological development of the model system. More details coming soon!
These challenges aim to generate valuable contributions from many stakeholders to inform the Center’s strategic plan, energize the Center’s research efforts, increase public awareness of the opioid crisis and enhance the national effort to reduce the number of opioid overdoses worldwide.
Details of the Five Challenges
Dates and Deadlines
The challenge submission period is now closed. Check back soon to see more information about the winners.
The Challenge began: December 31, 2018
Submission period: December 31, 2018-May 31, 2019
Judging period: June 17, 2019-August 2, 2019 (List of Judges)
Winners announced: August 2019
For further information send an email to NCATSASPIREChallenge@mail.nih.gov.