Dr. Robert Green, winner of the first BRIght Futures Prize.

On November 15, 2012, the Biomedical Research Institute (BRI) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) held its first Research Day.  The day-long public celebration featured a discussion on the importance of medical research and included 150 poster presentations by leading BWH researchers on today’s hottest health topics, such as obesity, healthy aging, and personalized medicine.

But the highlight of BWH Research Day was the announcement of Dr. Robert Green as the winner of the $100,000 BRIght Futures Prize.  Just as exciting: the use of crowdsourcing, or relying on the collective wisdom of groups, to choose the winner.

Dr. Green was named the winner after nearly 6,500 people from around the world voted for the three finalists online.  Dr. Green and his research team are searching for effective and responsible ways to use DNA sequencing technology in newborns to help families understand a child’s genetic risk for developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.

In addition to Dr. Green’s project, the other finalists included a project jointly led by Drs. Phil DeJager and Elizabeth Karlson, whose proposal focused on using genetics and electronic health records to treat multiple sclerosis and a project led by Dr. Robert Plenge, whose proposal focused on the use of technology to unravel the mysteries of the immune system. Read our recent blog post to learn and view more about all three projects.

“I am grateful to BWH for creating this competition and I am delighted to win. At the same time all three finalists were fantastic and worthy of funding,” said Dr. Green.  “And I hope we can keep this momentum going so more and more people can get their creative pilot projects funded in this kind of way.”

“We wanted to increase the awareness of our research at BWH and around the world, which is how the BRIght Futures Prize originated,” said Jacqueline Slavik, PhD, executive director of BRI.  Dr. Slavik explained that last spring, BRI asked BWH researchers to submit intriguing medical questions they wanted answered.  From the 106 questions collected, a handful were selected by BRI and presented to researchers to develop into projects. Following a peer review process, the three finalists were selected to compete publicly for the $100,000 BRIght Futures Prize.

The day was also highlighted by a keynote address by Dr. Atul Gawande, a noted surgeon, writer, and researcher, who spoke about the importance of collaboration in developing innovative solutions to today’s health care challenges.

Help us start planning for next year’s Research Day. What medical research would you like to see funded in the future?

- Michelle C, Jamie R

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