Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The August 28, 2020 submission deadline has passed. Winner(s) will be announced in November 2020.



Challenge Prize Competition

Q.    What is a Challenge Competition?
A.    A Challenge is any contest or prize competition conducted pursuant to the America COMPETES Act in which a prize(s) is offered to a winning participant(s) depending on his or her ability to meet the established criteria for award.

Q.    Why is the NHLBI using the Challenge competition mechanism?
A.    The goal of the Challenge is to foster innovation in data analysis approaches, utilizing NHLBI-funded datasets to develop new avenues in heart failure research. A major advantage of the Challenge prize competition mechanism is that it allows out-of-the-box Solutions from researchers not typically supported by NIH — for example, those with primary expertise in machine learning and computer science.

Focus of the Challenge

Q.    What is adult heart failure? What do we mean by sub-phenotyping and scheme? Why are existing heart failure classifications not adequate?
A.    Adult heart failure is a chronic, progressive disorder in which the heart is unable to efficiently pump blood, and more than 6.5 million Americans suffer from this condition.

A phenotype is any of the observable characteristics or traits of an individual. Sub-phenotyping is a way to identify a subgroup of individuals with a particular disease or disorder according to common shared characteristics. Heart failure is known to be a multi-organ, systemic syndrome with many related but seemingly disparate phenotypes. Additionally, physiological, social, behavioral, environmental, and genetic determinants often captured in study data have a considerable influence on health  outcomes for adults living with heart failure, but how they do so is not well-understood. A new sub-phenotyping scheme for adult heart failure would be a systematic framework that incorporates many factors into a comprehensive disease model, expanding beyond current categorization according to a single metric – left ventricular ejection fraction.

Developing an adult heart failure sub-phenotyping scheme that incorporates many disease-associated factors would create a new paradigm that will benefit investigations into the mechanism of disease, diagnosis, and, ultimately, prevention and treatment.


Q.    What organizations/individuals are eligible to participate in the NHLBI Big Data Analysis Challenge?
A.    Eligibility is specified in the Rules for Participating which can be found on this webpage or in the Challenge Announcement.

Q.    I am not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Can I still participate in the Challenge? Am I eligible to win the prize (or part of a prize if I am part of a team)?
A.    Non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents that otherwise satisfy the eligibility criteria can participate as members of participating teams. Non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents are not eligible to win monetary prizes (in whole or in part). Their participation as part of a winning team, if applicable, may be recognized when the results are announced. Full eligibility criteria can be found on this webpage or in the Challenge Announcement.


Q.    Is there a limit to the number of Participants on a team?
A.    No, there is not a limit to the number of Participants on a team.

Q.    Is a team required?
A.    No. Individuals may participate, provided they meet the eligibility criteria, which can found on this webpage or in the Challenge Announcement.

Q.  Is an individual, group, or entity allowed to be part of more than one team?
A.  Yes, provided that each team submits a unique Solution.

Q.    Does team member expertise play a role in the evaluation of submissions?
A.    Refer to Evaluation Criterion 3 on this webpage or in the PDF of the announcement to learn what role the Participant’s expertise will play in the judging of submissions.

Q.    If I participate, do I have to submit a letter of intent (LOI)? Will it help me win?
A.    Submitting an LOI is optional and is not required. LOIs will not increase Participants’ odds of winning.

Q.    What details should be included in the optional LOI?
A.    Letters of intent should contain a tentative title and a one-paragraph summary of the planned approach. If a letter of intent is submitted on behalf of a team or entity, it should identify the team leader. Limit 1 page.


Q.    How do I submit a Solution?
A.    Submit the Solution Package as a single PDF file to by NOON EDT, August 28, 2020. See “How to Enter” on this website or in the announcement for more detail.

Q.    What is the deadline for submitting a Solution?
A.    Solution Packages must be received by NOON EDT, August 28, 2020 in order to be considered.

Q.    Is there a page limit?
A.    The Cover Page must not exceed one (1) page. The Solution to the Challenge must not exceed six (6) pages. See “Solution Requirements” on this webpage or in the PDF of the announcement for more detail.

Q.    Do results need to be included in the Solution writeup?
A.    Including methods in your Solution writeup is required. Including results is strongly encouraged. For more information on entry requirements for the Challenge, please visit the "How to Enter" page.    

Q.    Can I submit multiple Solutions to be judged?
A.    Yes, provided that each Solution is unique.     

Q.    What criteria is NHLBI using to judge the Solutions?
A.    Submissions will be evaluated using the judging criteria specified in the announcement, which can also be found on this webpage.

Q.    When will I know the results? How will I know if I won?
A.    Winners will be notified in November 2020 and announced by NHLBI.

Q.    Can I publish my Solution in a scientific journal? If I don’t win, can I still publish my Solution?
A.    Publication of Solutions (including non-winning Solutions) is encouraged.


Q.  How will the prize funds be paid? How will prize money be split among members of a winning team or entity?
A.  Award funds will be transferred as one lump sum. Participants (whether an individual, group of individuals, or entity) will be responsible for any applicable taxes. If a winning Solution is submitted by a team or entity, the prize will be transmitted as one lump sum directly to the designated Team Leader.

Q.   What happens if no winning Solutions are identified? What happens if there are fewer than five winning Solutions?  
A:  NHLBI is not obligated to pay out any or all prize funds and reserves the right to select any number of winning Solutions up to five total. Each winning Solution can receive up to $50,000, the amount to be determined by federal judges.

Q.  What are my odds of winning a Challenge prize?
A.  This will depend on the number of eligible Solutions received and on the number of prizes issued by NHLBI.

Intellectual Property

Q.    How will intellectual property (IP) be handled in this Challenge?
A.    By participating in this Challenge, each Participant (whether an individual, group of individuals, or entity) grants to the NIH an irrevocable, paid-up, royalty-free nonexclusive worldwide license to reproduce, publish, post, link to, share, and display publicly the contents of the Participant’s Solution Package on the web or elsewhere; and a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license to practice, or have practiced for or on its behalf, the Solution throughout the world. Additionally, each Participant agrees to make freely and openly available (via GitHub or other applicable open-source development platforms) to the public any tools or other resources developed as part of the Solution. Each Participant will retain all other intellectual property rights in their Solutions, as applicable. To participate in the Challenge, each Participant must warrant that there are no legal obstacles to providing the above-referenced nonexclusive licenses of the Participant’s rights to the federal government. To participate, Participants will not be required to transfer their intellectual property rights to NIH; however, by participating in this Challenge, Participants grant to the federal government the nonexclusive licenses recited herein.

Q.    What does “free and open access” mean?
A.    Any tools developed as part of the prize must be made publicly available to use free of charge and without barriers to access (e.g., GitHub).

Data Access and Resources

Q.    Why is NHLBI data useful for this Challenge?
A.    As a part of its mission to understand heart, lung, blood, and sleep diseases and disorders, NHLBI has made considerable investments in the creation of deep data resources, including long-standing, deeply-phenotyped epidemiological cohorts; innovative clinical trials; and large-scale precision medicine efforts that have generated whole genome sequencing and “other omics” data for more than one-hundred thousand individuals.

Q.    Do I have to use NHLBI data?
A.    Participants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of NHLBI-funded datasets in the development of their Solutions. Evaluation Criterion 2 includes, “To what extent has the Solution utilized NHLBI-funded biomedical health datasets?” The full Evaluation Criteria can be found on this webpage and in the announcement.

Q.    Can I use non-NHLBI supported data?
A.    Participants are welcome to bring other relevant data to their analyses. Evaluation Criterion 2 includes, “To what extent are datasets that serve as the basis of the Solution rigorously generated and relevant to the field of heart failure research?” The full Evaluation Criteria can be found on this webpage and in the announcement.

Q.    Where can I find NHLBI data, and how do I access it?
A.    NHLBI-supported data can be accessed via:

More detailed information about each of these resources, requirements to access them, and how to request access to them is available on this webpage.