January 13, 2020

The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Sage Bionetworks Launch $25,000 BEAT-PD DREAM Challenge

The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Sage Bionetworks Launch $25,000 BEAT-PD DREAM Challenge


NEW YORK (Jan. 13, 2020) – The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) and Sage Bionetworks have partnered with Evidation Health, Northwestern University, Radboud University Medical Center, and BRAIN Commons to launch the BEAT-PD (Biomarker and Endpoint Assessment to Track Parkinson’s Disease) DREAM Challenge. BEAT-PD is a data challenge designed to benchmark new methods to predict Parkinson’s disease severity. Winners from the Challenge will share a $25,000 prize.

Recent advances in digital health have demonstrated the potential of sensor-based technologies for quantitative, remote monitoring of health – particularly for conditions affecting motor function such as Parkinson’s disease, a chronic neurological disorder that affects more than one million people in the U.S. alone. Devices, including smartphones, watches, and fitness trackers, can measure symptoms related to Parkinson’s in more detail and at a higher frequency than in-clinic assessments. The barrier is the lack of standardized methods to convert sensor-based data into digital biomarkers for patients whose symptoms can vary.

“Sensor data holds potential for helping us understand the daily experience of Parkinson’s patients and how disease progresses over time,” says Mark Frasier, PhD, senior vice president of research programs at MJFF. “We look forward to seeing what the teams can accomplish with the data and to further develop biomarkers in Parkinson’s.”

In a previous data challenge, teams proved that disease status and symptom severity could be predicted using data collected during the completion of specific tasks. The BEAT-PD Challenge builds on this by attempting to determine whether disease severity can be assessed from passive sensor data from consumer electronics, collected during daily life, not pre-set tasks, which will bring us closer to the promise of at-home monitoring of disease progression. Teams participating in the Challenge will have access to raw sensor (accelerometer and gyroscope) time-series data that can be used to predict individual medication state and symptom severity.

“By focusing on data collected in the home environment without supervision, we are targeting the harder problem of understanding the personalized variation in disease burden,” says Larsson Omberg, PhD, vice president of systems biology at Sage Bionetworks. “Ideally, insights derived from the challenge can aid in the development of digital biomarkers for PD.”

Submissions to the BEAT-PD Challenge are due by April 22, 2020. For more information, interested applicants are invited to attend a webinar on Feb. 4, 2020, at 8 a.m. PST. The winning team and a runner-up will be announced in May 2020.

Register for the challenge: www.synapse.org/beatpdchallenge



Kristina Magana
The Michael J. Fox Foundation


Hsiao-Ching Chou
Sage Bionetworks



Sage Bionetworks is a nonprofit biomedical research and technology development organization that was founded in Seattle in 2009. Our focus is to develop and apply open practices to data-driven research for the advancement of human health. Our interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers work together to provide researchers access to technology tools and scientific approaches to share data, benchmark methods, and explore collective insights, all backed by Sage’s gold-standard governance protocols and commitment to user-centered design. Sage is a 501c3 and is supported through a portfolio of competitive research grants, commercial partnerships, and philanthropic contributions.


As the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson’s patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $900 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson’s research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson’s disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson’s awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. For more information, visit us at michaeljfox.org, on Facebook or Twitter.


DREAM (Dialogue on Reverse Engineering and Assessment Methods) Challenges emerged in 2006 to leverage the wisdom of the multidisciplinary scientific community to solve fundamental and difficult questions in biomedical research. DREAM’s methodology is based on crowd-sourcing scientific Challenges, fostering open and collaborative research, and promoting data sharing. In 2013, DREAM partnered with Sage Bionetworks, which developed and administers the technology platform that underpins DREAM Challenges.


The BRAIN Commons is a scalable cloud based platform for computational discovery designed for the brain health community. The BRAIN Commons empowers the global research community by providing access to multi-modal data, state-of-the-art analytic tools and a secure interoperable system for data sharing. Spearheaded by Cohen Veterans Bioscience, a leading global brain health research non-profit foundation, the BRAIN Commons is co-developed with the Center for Data Intensive Science at the University of Chicago and the Open Commons Consortium, which have successfully launched generations of data commons platforms. In partnership with The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the BRAIN Commons will host the DREAM challenge data. www.braincommons.org