NIH issues “Follow that Cell” challenge, offering $500,000 in prizes

Image of program logo

The NIH is challenging researchers to compete for prizes totaling up to $500,000 for developing new ways to track the health status of a single cell in complex tissue over time. The NIH Follow that Cell Challenge seeks tools that would, for example, monitor a cell in the process of becoming cancerous, detect changes due to a disease-causing virus, or track how a cell responds to treatment.

“Advances in cellular analysis promise earlier diagnosis and improved therapies for diseases, from cancer to Alzheimer’s,” said James Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIH’s Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives. “These prizes will also help to stimulate new businesses and economic growth in our biomedical communities.”

The Challenge aims to generate creative ideas and methods for following and predicting a single cell’s behavior and function over time in a complex multicellular environment – preferably using multiple integrated measures to detect its changing state.