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Three Ideas to Increase Clinical Trial Patient Enrollment Win Innovation Prize

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Sara Ifert, Marketing Director


ALCF and Free to Breathe Award $30,000 for Innovative Ideas

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) and Free to Breathe are on a mission to double participation in cancer clinical trials. The two organizations jointly announced the winners and people’s choice award for the first phase of its Clinical Trial Innovation Prize today, which consisted of a worldwide search of creative and novel ideas on how to double the accrual rate of cancer clinical trials. Over 100 innovators and 14 teams participated in the Challenge from all over the world, with submissions coming in from Israel, Nigeria, Germany, India, United States and 13 other countries. The first and second prize winners were selected by a panel of judges with varying backgrounds in the healthcare industry.

“The Innovation Prize competition is doing exactly what we wanted it to do and that’s generating new ideas that could potentially help people suffering from cancer,” said Guneet Walia, PhD, Director of Research and Medical Affairs at ALCF. “We will be working with these innovators to develop their ideas further by seeding collaborations with industry, academia and other partners. We believe the solution to increased participation in clinical trials is a collective, collaborative approach with the ultimate goal of patients living longer and better lives.”

The winning ideas that were selected by the judging panel are:

First Prize: “Match Point: Matching Patients and Trials Via EHR” submitted by Helynx, a start-up out of Caltech, UCLA and Harvard, and Dr. Jae Kim, a cardiothoracic surgeon at City of Hope. The trio teamed up to create a system for automatically matching patients to the clinical trials for which they qualify using machine learning techniques to read patients’ Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to determine eligibility. This program will be piloted at the 13 community centers affiliated to City of Hope in southern California. The winning entry received $20,000 USD.

Second Prize: “Fast, Fun & Friendly: Build Trust Before Research” submitted by Matt Gerber and Dr. Deanna Teoh of the Gynecologic Oncology Department at the University of Minnesota. They propose to create a personalized welcome app for patients arriving at their clinic including a video that talks about the benefits of clinical research and dispels common myths about clinical trials. Gerber and Teoh’s idea won their team $5,000 USD.

People’s Choice Award: Top 12 finalists in the Ideation Phase were eligible to win the People’s Choice Award, voted on by the public. “Meet NORA (Network Oriented Research Assistant)” submitted by Noah Craft of Los Angeles garnered the most votes. Craft is the co-founder and CEO for Science 37, a company working to help patients take part in clinical research from the comfort of their own homes. This submission won $5,000 USD.

“The winning ideas embrace technology, which is a must in today’s healthcare landscape, but they do more than that, they engage the patient,” said Sherie Reinders, chief operating officer at Free to Breathe. “Engaging cancer patients and making it easy for them to find and participate in trials will help break down one of the biggest barriers we face today and that’s awareness that trials even exist.”

The second phase of the Clinical Trial Innovation Prize, the Implementation/Proof of Concept Challenge launches later this month and is open to any team or individual, even if a competitor or competitors didn’t participate in phase one. One project will win $45,000 USD upon proving that the idea resulted in an increase in participation in cancer clinical trials. 

More information about the Clinical Trial Innovation Prize and deadlines can be found at


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About the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) is one of the largest philanthropies (patient-founded, patient-focused, and patient-driven) devoted exclusively to eradicating Lung Cancer through research, early detection, education, and treatment. The Foundation's goal is to work with a diverse group of physicians, organizations, industry partners, individuals, patients, survivors, and their families to identify solutions and make timely and meaningful change and turn lung cancer into a chronically managed disease by 2023. The ALCF was established on March 1, 2006 as a 501c(3) non-profit organization and has raised more than $20 million for lung cancer research and related programs. For those interested in learning more about ALCF, visit and follow its activities on Twitter and Facebook.

About Free to Breathe

Free to Breathe, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a partnership of lung cancer survivors, advocates, researchers, healthcare professionals and industry leaders united in the belief that every person with lung cancer deserves a cure. Free to Breathe is dedicated to doubling lung cancer survival by 2022.  To achieve this transformative vision, Free to Breathe is funding research that has the greatest potential to save lives, helping patients understand their treatment options, ensuring that molecular tumor testing is standard of care and working to double the number of lung cancer patients participating in clinical trials.

©2018 Lung Cancer Research Foundation | Federal Tax ID #14-1935776 | LCRF is a 501(c)(3) public charity.