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NIH Pi Day Celebration: New Date, New Location!

May 18, 2017

The National Institutes of Health will hold its third annual Pi Day Celebration on the NIH Main Campus on Pi Day 2.0, Thursday, May 18, 2107. As you may recall, the original Pi Day festivities, on 3.14, were postponed due to inclement weather. The goal of the NIH Pi Day Celebration is to increase awareness across the biomedical science community of the role that the quantitative sciences play in biomedical science. 

Pi Day @ NIH will feature the following activities:

  • 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM: Data Center Tours, Building 12A, Room 1100 (REGISTRATION REQUIRED)
  • 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: PiCo Lightning Talks by NIH staff, Masur Auditorium, Clinical Center (Building 10), first floor

VIEW VIDEOCAST AT: https://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=23246&bhcp=1

  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Poster/Demo Session and Networking, FAES Terrace, Clinical Center (Building 10), first floor
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: NIH Data Science Distinguished Seminar Series, Lecture by Simons Professor of Mathematics at MIT, Dr. Bonnie Berger, “The Mathematics of Biomedical Data Science,” Masur Auditorium, Clinical Center (Building 10), first floor

VIEW VIDEOCAST AT: https://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=23249&bhcp=1/

  • 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM: Research Reproducibility Workshop, NIH Library Training Room, Clinical Center (Building 10), first floor, near the South Entrance (REGISTRATION REQUIRED)

NIH campus map: https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/maps/Pages/vis_map.aspx

For more information about the day's events, visit the NIH Pi Day website: http://nihpiday.nih.gov/.       

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world and, under normal circumstances, at NIH! The Greek letter Pi is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant—the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter—which is approximately 3.14159.

Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.

NIH Pi Day is a joint effort of multiple ICs, including CIT, NCI, NHGRI, and NLM, and the NIH Office of the Director, including the NIH Library and the Office of Intramural Research. Additional support is provided by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) and the NIH Bioinformatics Special Interest Group.

For all events, sign language interpreters can be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact Jacqueline Roberts, Jacqueline.Roberts@nih.gov, 301-594-6747, or the Federal Relay, 800-877-8339.


Open Science Prize announces nextstrain.org as Grand Prize Winner

February 28, 2017

Congratulations to the nextstrain.org development team led by Trevor Bedford, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, and Richard Neher, PhD, of Biozentrum at the University of Basel, Switzerland winners of the grand prize of $230,000. Also participating were students from the laboratories of the team leaders; the University of Washington, Seattle; and the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Read the official NIH press release.

A prototype online platform that uses real-time visualization and viral genome data to track the spread of global pathogens such as Zika and Ebola is the grand prize winner of the Open Science Prize. The international team competition is an initiative by the National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The winning team, Real-time Evolutionary Tracking for Pathogen Surveillance and Epidemiological Investigation, created its nextstrain.org prototype to pool data from researchers across the globe, perform rapid phylogenetic analysis, and post the results on the platform’s website.

Genome sequences of viral pathogens provide a hugely valuable insight into the spread of an epidemic, but to be useful, samples have to be collected, analyzed and the results disseminated in near real-time. The statistical analyses behind nextstrain.org can be conducted in minutes, and can reveal patterns of geographic spread, timings of introduction events, and can connect cases to aid contact tracing efforts. The phylogenetic analyses are posted on the website as interactive and easy to understand visualizations. They hope that the platform will be of great use to researchers, public health officials and the public who want a snapshot of an epidemic.

Nextstrain.org placed first out of three top finalists, selected from a pool of 96 multinational, interdisciplinary teams including 450 innovators from 45 countries. This award is the culmination of a year-long process which included development and demonstration of working prototypes and multiple stages of rigorous review by panels of expert Open Science advisors and judges from the Wellcome Trust and NIH. All stages of the competition emphasized open science in both form and process, including public input for the award gathered via a global public voting portal. During the public voting phase, which narrowed the six finalists to three top contenders, nearly 4,000 online votes were cast by members of the public from a total of 76 countries on all six inhabited continents.

The Open Science Prize is a global competition designed to foster innovative solutions in public health and biomedicine using open digital content. As increasing amounts of data are produced by scientists around the world and made openly available through publicly-accessible repositories, a major challenge to fully maximize this health information will be the lack of tools, platforms, and services that enable the sharing and synthesizing of disparate data sources. Development in this area is essential to turning diverse types of health data into usable and actionable knowledge.

The prize, which was launched in October 2015, aims to forge new international collaborations that bring together open science innovators to develop services and tools of benefit to the global research community. All six finalist teams were considered exemplary by the funders and are to be commended for their tenacity in developing creative approaches to applying publicly-accessible data to solve complex biomedical and public health challenges. The topics spanned the breadth of biomedical and public challenges, ranging from understanding the genetic basis of rare diseases, mapping the human brain, and enhancing the sharing of clinical trial information. As evidenced from the six Open Science Prize finalists, public health and biomedical solutions are enriched when data are combined from geographically diverse sources. Final prototypes developed by the six finalists can be accessed on the Open Science Prize website.


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