October 9, 2014


Support for DREAM Challenges

The DREAM Challenges initiative is a non-profit effort run by a community of scientists from universities, non-profit organizations and companies in the biotechnology and biomedical industry. Our team organizes both basic and translational science Challenges developed by scientists for scientists.

The end point of DREAM Challenges is to advance science using in a not-for-profit model. However there are expenses associated with running a DREAM Challenge and the costs that are not absorbed by in-kind contributions need to be recovered to make the DREAM Challenges sustainable. Depending on the Challenge and its complexity a budget needs to be balanced that includes expenses such as IT infrastructure, the scientific and technical services provided by the challenge organization team that cannot be absorbed in-kind, and other Challenge expenses like travel expenses, Challenge advertising fees, publication fees, and Challenge participant “incentives” i.e., (usually travel to conference to present results and monetary awards). If the Challenge has been proposed to DREAM by a Foundation, or a Research group (our Challenge partners) the costs can be defrayed through grants or donations. In all cases our team plays a central role in the curation of the DREAM Challenges, running it, scoring the results and publishing a paper to make the results available.

It is important to note the “cost” to be recovered to run a Dream Challenge is only a fraction of the total cost. For example, there are commercial companies that are involved in DREAM Challenges, whose contributions are in-kind donations to the effort by donating personnel time and technology. Universities also make in-kind donations of their staff’s time to the efforts. The value of the in-kind donations is usually far greater than the costs to be recovered.

The DREAM Conference, a key component of the DREAM Challenges, has been generously supported from its inception by the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) through its Columbia University Magnet Center. Other sponsors of the DREAM conference have been IBM Research, Sage Bionetworks and the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB).