Rare Disease Science Guidelines

Assay Depot and the Rare Genomics Institute are teaming up to sponsor the Rare Disease Challenge: Be HEARD (Helping Empower and Accelerate Research Discoveries) to accelerate rare disease research. Prizes for the scientific challenge include $10,000 cash and more than $400,000 of donated research services from participating service providers. The research proposals submitted will be evaluated by an expert panel of scientists, with the final winner selected by Facebook voting for the cash prize (to be used towards research).

Challenge Guidelines

All proposals submitted will be eligible for the $10,000 cash prize. There are various donations from our generous sponsors that researchers can apply for, as seen below.

Researchers can apply for as little as 1 donation or for as many donated services as appropriate for study of their selected rare disease; submitted proposals may be awarded one or more donations based on the review from our expert panel and evaluation of technical fit and feasibility in conjunction with the sponsors. Please click on the logos from each of our sponsors to find out more about each donation being provided and the sponsor providing it. We categorized donated services by keyword/type, so please take a look at the full list of services.

Find out more more information about applying in the sections below, or go directly to the submission page.


The competition will run from Oct. 15, 2012 to Dec. 15, 2012. Finalists for the $10,000 prize will be announced on Feb. 28, 2013; those finalists will then be part of the Facebook voting, whereby the one with the most votes will win the $10,000 prize.

Who Can Apply?

The competition is open to researchers (at any stage of their career) at non-profit institutions, including researchers even if they have not previously studied a rare disease. We welcome families affected by rare diseases, advocacy groups, foundations and for-profit companies to collaborate with a researcher at a non-profit institution in order to apply. To see if your disease qualifies, you may take a look through rare diseases as defined by the Office of Rare Diseases Research.

If you have not been able to identify an appropriate researcher at a non-profit institution to collaborate with, we will utilize our network of scientific experts to attempt to pair you with scientist(s) at non-profit institutions. Note that for donations that will utilize human samples, it is expected that the researcher will have appropriate institutional approval, patient consent and adhere to relevant privacy guidelines for analysis of such samples. These donations are being provided for research purposes only, and not for making medical treatment decisions. If you have questions about eligibility or want assistance in finding a researcher, please contact us.

How to Apply

Researchers can submit a proposal online detailing background of the rare disease of interest (including current status of advances in the field of diagnosis, research and treatment of the rare diseases), provide up to one page for each donation being applied for of how it will be useful for further advancement and impact of research and/or treatment of the rare disease, and qualifications and affiliation of the submitting researcher. Please also include your full name, email, a phone number we can reach you at, and any organizations you may be associated with. Please indicate what prize(s) you are submitting for and be sure to explain how your project fits the prize guideline.

To submit a proposal, please visit our submission page, download the submission form, complete the form, and re-upload it as a PDF to the submission page.

Application Deadline and Judging

The final submission deadline is Dec 15, 2012. Projects selected as finalists will go to voting starting Feb 28, 2013. Projects will initially be reviewed by experts at the Rare Genomics Institute, Assay Depot, and technical experts from donating companies. Selection of the final round of judging will be by our Judging Panel of well-known scientists.

Service Sponsors

The Rare Disease Challenge: Be HEARD would not be possible without our generous service sponsors. Click to find out about the services they are donating and about their company. They may be able to help with your rare disease research!

Platinum ($25,000+):


Gold ($10,000-$25,000):



Silver ($5,000-10,000):


Bronze ($2,500-5,000):

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