X-Prizes for Health and Medicine?

Have you ever heard about the Ansari X Prize that resulted in constructing the world’s first privately developed spacecraft?


Have you ever heard about the Archon X-Prize for Genomics? It will lead us to a new generation of genome sequencing methods.

What about an X Prize for Health and Medicine? Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came up with some interesting ideas.

Of the specific proposals, one team suggested a prize for a major milestone in dealing with the problem of TB, which remains endemic in 22 nations and costs 1.7 million lives every year. Effective treatments exist, but the testing is relatively expensive and often misses active cases. So they proposed a $10 million prize for a new cheap, fast and accurate diagnostic system that could reach most of the 50 percent of cases that now go undiagnosed. Winning the prize would require not just laboratory demonstrations but field tests on 1,000 patients to show that it really works under difficult conditions.

The second proposal was for a simple, portable system that could be used by community health workers to carry out initial diagnostic evaluations for the 10 most widespread fatal, transmissible diseases. Such screening could lead to prescriptions of drugs or treatment for some conditions or referral to a doctor or nurse for conditions that require skilled care or more difficult diagnosis.

What do you think? An X Prize for Health and Medicine would be a good idea? Which medical specialty would be your choice?