[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 156 (Monday, August 13, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 48162-48164]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-19801]


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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

National Institutes of Health


Announcement of Requirements and Registration for the Challenge 
To Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness 
Rehabilitation

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 3719.

SUMMARY: The National Eye Institute (NEI) is announcing the launch of 
the Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and 
Blindness Rehabilitation (Challenge) to stimulate innovation in 
establishing a national vision research agenda. This Challenge seeks 
entries from the general public, not just those typically engaged in 
vision research. The challenge calls for submission of audacious goals 
in any area relevant to NEI's mission to conduct and support research, 
training, health information dissemination, and other programs with 
respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of 
visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems 
and requirements of the blind (42 U.S.C. 285i).
    The NEI will select up to 20 winners to receive a $3,000 cash prize 
and will host the winners at the NEI Audacious Goals Development 
Meeting to present and discuss their winning entries with a broad 
audience of scientists, NEI staff, and other stakeholders. This 
challenge will generate valuable contributions from NEI's many and 
varied stakeholders to inform the Institute's strategic plan, energize 
the Institute's research efforts, increase public awareness of vision 
research, and enhance the national effort to reduce the burden of 
ocular disorders and diseases worldwide.

DATES: 
    (1) Submission period begins August 13, 2012.
    (2) Submission period ends November 12, 2012, 6:00 p.m. ET.
    (3) Winners notified January 7, 2013.
    (4) Winners present and discuss their winning entry at the NEI 
Audacious Goals Development Meeting in early 2013 (date will be 
announced on http://www.nei.nih.gov/challenge).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard S. Fisher, Ph.D., Associate 
Director for Science Policy and Legislation, National Eye Institute, 
Phone: 301-496-4308. [NEIPlan@mail.nih.gov.]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Subject of Challenge Competition

    This Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and 
Blindness Rehabilitation (Challenge) adds an exciting, unique component 
to the NEI's current strategic planning effort. In the past, these 
planning efforts relied primarily on the expertise of NEI-funded 
scientists to review the state of the science and describe current 
specific research needs and opportunities. This Challenge seeks input 
from all eligible individuals (Contestants)--not just vision research 
scientists--to describe (a) an audacious goal in vision research and 
blindness rehabilitation, (b) how to achieve the goal within about 10 
years, and (c) the impact of reaching the goal.

Rules for Participating in the Competition

    1. Eligibility: To be eligible to win a prize under this Challenge, 
a Contestant:
    [cir] Shall have registered to participate in the competition under 
the rules promulgated by the NEI and explained in this Notice;
    [cir] Shall have complied with all the requirements under this 
section;
    [cir] Shall be an individual at least 18 years of age and shall be 
a citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
    [cir] May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within 
the scope of their employment. Federal employees seeking to participate 
in this contest outside the scope of their employment should consult 
their ethics official prior to developing their submission;
    [cir] May not be employees of the NIH or any other company or 
individual involved with the design, production, execution, judging, or 
distribution of the Challenge and their immediate family (spouse, 
parents and step-parents, siblings and step-siblings, and children and 
step-children) and household members (people who share the same 
residence at least three (3) months out of the year);
    2. Federal grantees may not use Federal funds to develop America 
COMPETES Act Challenge applications unless consistent with the purpose 
of their grant award (Grantees should consult with their cognizant 
Grants Management Official to make this determination); and
    3. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to 
develop a Challenge entry or to fund efforts in support of a Challenge 
submission.
    4. A Contestant shall not be deemed ineligible because the 
individual used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees 
during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available 
to all individuals participating in the competition on an equitable 
basis.
    5. Liability: By participating in this Challenge, Contestants agree 
to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal 
Government and its related entities, except in the case of willful 
misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, 
revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, 
arising from participation in this prize contest, whether the injury, 
death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise.
    6. Indemnification: By participating in this Challenge, Contestants 
agree to indemnify the Federal Government against third party claims 
for damages arising from or related to competition activities.
    7. Insurance: Based on the subject matter of the contest, the type 
of work that it will possibly require, as well as an analysis of the 
likelihood of any claims for death, bodily injury, or property damage, 
or loss potentially resulting from contest participation, Contestants 
are not required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial 
responsibility in order to participate in this contest.
    8. By participating in this Challenge, each individual agrees to 
abide by all rules set forth in this Notice and the Challenge.gov Terms 
of Participation (http://challenge.gov/terms).
    9. Each Entry Must:
    [cir] Be limited to a maximum of 4,000 characters, including spaces 
(roughly a single page). In addition to information requested by http://www.nei.nih.gov/challenge to identify the entry, Contestants must 
complete three statements about the proposed audacious goal. The 
following statements, which will be the subject of the judging, are:
    [ssquf] It would be fantastic if * * *'' (Explain why the goal is 
audacious and

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how the goal fits within NEI's mission, which is listed in the 
Challenge summary.)
    [ssquf] To achieve the audacious goal, * * *'' (Discuss the 
feasibility of achieving the goal within about a 10 year period, 
including the technological, scientific, or other advances that are 
needed to reach the goal.)
    [ssquf] If the audacious goal is achieved, the impact would be * * 
*''
    Note: Examples of what would have been considered audacious goals 
in the past can be found at in the ``Additional Information'' section 
of this notice.
    10. Contestants may submit more than one audacious goal entry, as 
long as they are unique.
    11. The NEI will not select as a winner an individual who is 
currently on the Excluded Parties List (https://www.epls.gov/).
    12. Entries must be original works developed solely by the 
Contestant and not infringe any intellectual property or any other 
rights of any third party.

Process for Registration and Submitting an Entry

    For this challenge, registration and submitting an entry are 
completed in a single step. Participants can register and submit an 
entry for this challenge by following the instructions at the Challenge 
to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness 
Rehabilitation Web site: www.nei.nih.gov/challenge.

Amount of the Prize

    Up to 20 winners will each be awarded a $3,000 prize and up to 
$2,000 in travel reimbursement to participate in the NEI Audacious 
Goals Development Meeting in the Washington, DC area in early 2013. 
Prizes awarded under this competition will be paid by electronic funds 
transfer and may be subject to Federal income taxes. The NEI, one of 
the National Institutes of Health, which is a component of the 
Department of Health and Human Services, will comply with the Internal 
Revenue Service withholding and reporting requirements, where 
applicable. Winners will be invited to lead small group discussions on 
their submitted goal and understand that the submitted ideas may be 
combined with others during the meeting as part of the process to 
identify audacious goals. If winners are not present at the meeting, 
their entries will still be discussed. Travel expenses to and from the 
meeting location, lodging and meals will be separately reimbursed up to 
$2,000 and in accordance with Federal Government travel policy. Winners 
will need to provide receipts to document travel expenses for 
reimbursement purposes in accordance with National Institutes of Health 
policy and applicable laws and regulations (http://oma.od.nih.gov/manualchapters/management/1500/).

Basis Upon Which Winners Will Be Selected

    The audacious goals entries will be de-identified and then will be 
judged by a selection board composed of NIH employees in compliance 
with the requirements of the America COMPETES Act and the Department of 
Health and Human Services judging guidelines (http://www.hhs.gov/open/initiatives/challenges/judges_guidance.html). Judges will be named 
after commencement of the challenge and will consist of senior 
scientists and clinicians with knowledge of vision research and ocular 
disorders as well as allied biomedical disciplines. The judges will 
consult with technical advisors from biomedical, clinical, or other 
scientific disciplines if it is necessary to properly evaluate entries. 
The judges will make selections based upon the following criteria:
    1. Relevance to the NEI Mission: Each entry will be rated on how 
the goal would further the NEI mission to conduct and support research, 
training, health information dissemination, and other programs with 
respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of 
visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems 
and requirements of the blind.
    2. Audaciousness: Each entry will be rated on whether the proposed 
goal is bold, daring, original or unconventional, exceptionally 
innovative, creative, novel, or any combination.
    3. Feasibility: Although it is recommended that contestants 
consider about a 10 year time period for achieving a proposed goal, NEI 
recognizes that estimates of the timeframe for an audacious goal could 
vary considerably depending on the nature of the goal. Thus, audacious 
goals with shorter or longer time periods may be acceptable. Each entry 
will be rated on how well it describes the technological, scientific, 
or other advances that are needed to reach the goal.
    4. Scope: Each entry will be rated on the extent to which it is 
broad and/or far-reaching. Goals can include basic, translational, 
clinical research, or any combination. Goals may also encompass 
training or health information dissemination as appropriate within the 
NEI Mission. The goal could have multiple components, for example 
research requiring multidisciplinary approaches or involvement of 
multiple laboratories. Even a goal that addresses a disease affecting a 
relatively small number of patients may be considered broad and far-
reaching if it requires the development of tools and techniques that 
can be applied to other problems (see the historical example of Lebers 
Congenital Amaurosis in the additional information section below).
    5. Impact: Each entry will be rated on its transformative 
potential; its value in exerting a positive and powerful influence on 
the NEI mission.
    The evaluation process will begin by de-identifying the entries and 
removing those that are not responsive to this Challenge or not in 
compliance with all Challenge rules. The judges may consult with 
technical advisors with relevant expertise if it is necessary to 
properly evaluate entries. Judges and technical advisors will examine 
multiple entries in accord with the aforementioned judging criteria. 
The judges will meet to discuss the most meritorious entries. Final 
selection of up to 20 winners will be determined by a vote of the 
judges.

Additional Information

    NEI is one of 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes 
of Health, a component of the Department of Health and Human Services. 
NEI is the principal U.S. government agency that supports vision 
research, both in its own labs and in universities and research 
facilities throughout the U.S. and around the world. NEI has the 
responsibility of establishing a national agenda for vision research. 
Since NEI was established over 40 years ago, it has conducted strategic 
planning activities culminating in a series of national plans and 
workshop reports that identify needs and opportunities in vision 
research. These planning efforts have relied primarily on the expertise 
of NEI-funded investigators to review the state of the science and 
describe current specific research needs and opportunities.
    The current NEI strategic planning effort consists of three phases:
     Phase I: (Completed). Reports of six NEI-assembled panels 
of experts in vision research are compiled in a document entitled, 
Vision Research: Needs, Gaps, and Opportunities (http://www.nei.nih.gov/strategicplanning/).
     Phase II: This Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in 
Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation invites submissions of 
audacious goals. Winners of this challenge will present their goals at 
the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting of vision research 
stakeholders. The NEI and the National

[[Page 48164]]

Advisory Eye Council will then select the most compelling audacious 
goals for the national vision research agenda and to motivate funding 
agencies in the United States and worldwide to stimulate research 
efforts to address these goals. The NEI seeks broad and diverse input 
not only from vision researchers and other biomedical and scientific 
research communities, but also more widely from all interested 
individuals. Fresh ideas and approaches are expected to energize 
research efforts, increase public awareness of vision research, and 
make important contributions to planning that will enhance our effort 
to reduce the burden of ocular disorders and diseases worldwide. The 
creativity arising from a variety of new perspectives is expected to 
generate new research avenues and approaches.
     Phase III: NEI will develop an implementation plan that 
will outline how the NEI priorities, programs, and operations will 
address the needs, gaps and opportunities identified in Phase I of the 
strategic planning process and the newly identified audacious goals.
    The following historical examples are presented to provide a sense 
of what is meant by ``audacious goals.'' These were, or would have been 
big, bold ideas at that time. Each of these examples required multiple 
components and advances in a variety of areas. The NEI mission 
encompasses a variety of areas including basic and clinical research, 
epidemiology, diagnostics, information dissemination, technology 
development, training, and education and awareness of the special 
health problems caused by visual impairment. We invite audacious goals 
that contribute to NEI's mission.
     An audacious goal in 1997 would have been to develop gene 
therapy to cure an inherited form of childhood blindness in less than 
10 years. The first genetic mutations causing Lebers Congenital 
Amaurosis, a rare form of inherited childhood blindness, were 
identified in 1997. Multiple research groups then worked on developing 
gene therapy to treat this form of LCA, leading to the start of human 
clinical trials in 2007 and reports of success from three groups in 
2008 (http://www.nei.nih.gov/lca/backgrounder.asp).
     An audacious goal in 1990 would have been to develop 
imaging techniques to view the microscopic structures of a living human 
eye to aid the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
    Correcting telescope images for the blurring from turbulent 
atmosphere was first conceived in 1953 and applied successfully by the 
late 1980s. The technology was developed because the Department of 
Defense needed to view satellites from ground-based telescopes, but 
atmospheric turbulence distorted the images. Similarly, doctors could 
not see the microscopic structures in the back of the eye because their 
view was blurred by the optics of the patient's eye. The technology 
developed for astronomy was modified to view the back of the eye, and 
successful use of this approach allowed visualization of the main 
light-sensing cells in retina, the cone photoreceptors, in 1999 by 
Roorda and Williams.
     An audacious goal in 1986 was to sequence the entire human 
genome in 15 years.
    The Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health 
officially began the Human Genome Initiative in 1990. Important 
requirements at the time included enhancing sequencing and analytic 
technologies as well as computational resources to support future 
research and commercial applications, exploring gene function through 
mouse-human comparisons, studying human variation, and training future 
scientists in genomics. This required multiple approaches, labs, and 
expertise. A draft of the human genome was reported in 2000 and a 
complete genome was announced in 2003.

Contacting Challenge Winners and Displaying Winners' Information and 
Entry

    Using information provided in the Audacious Goal Form, winners will 
be notified by email, telephone, or mail after the judging is 
completed. Winners' names, hometown, state, and their audacious goal 
description will also be posted on the Challenge Web site 
www.nei.nih.gov/challenge.

Intellectual Property Rights

    By participating in this Challenge, each Contestant grants to NEI 
an irrevocable, paid-up, royalty-free, nonexclusive worldwide license 
to post, share, and publicly display the Contestant's audacious goal 
description on the Web, newsletters or pamphlets, and other 
informational products. Each Contestant understands and agrees that if 
his/her entry is selected as a winning entry, it will be discussed and 
refined at the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting early in 2013 
and may ultimately assist NEI in its prioritization of research goals 
or funding for research funding.

General Conditions

    NEI reserves the right to cancel, suspend, and/or modify the 
Competition for any reason, at NEI's sole discretion.

    Dated: August 8, 2012.
Paul A. Sieving,
Director, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.
[FR Doc. 2012-19801 Filed 8-10-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4140-01-P