The Evolutionary Medicine and Public Health Grand Challenges, 2021

Organized by Gillian Pepper

Use this link to register your interest and topic preferences for the ISEMPH 2021 Grand Challenges

What are the EMPH Grand Challenges?

The EMPH Grand Challenges will take place as part of the ISEMPH 2021 Annual Meeting (July 14-16, 2021). We’re inviting delegates to sign up to work in virtual teams to address the big questions and challenges facing medicine and public health today, with topics ranging from aging to tuberculosis.

Teams will attend two online workshops in advance of the conference, and a live conference session in which they will present their final ideas. These ideas should take the form of either a research proposal or, if the contribution is theoretical, a paper outline.

The purpose of these events is to encourage new connections and collaborations between EMPH researchers with common interests, and to spark innovation in the EMPH community. 

What’s involved?

The EMPH Grand Challenges will consist of 3 stages. If you sign up, please make sure that you’re able to attend all three stages:

  • Stage 1 – 1st July 2021, 4-6 pm UTC - defining the problem: An initial 2-hour virtual workshop will take place 2 weeks before the conference. You will meet your team, get to know them, and work to narrow the problem to a specific question which you feel can be better addressed from an evolutionary perspective.
  • Stage 2 – 8th July 2021, 4-6 pm UTC - developing the solution: The second virtual workshop will take place 1 week before the conference, and will last 2 hours. You will work as a team to devise either a brief research proposal or an outline for a theoretical/review paper, which addresses the chosen medical or public health challenge using evolutionary thinking.
  • Stage 3 - 16th July 2021, 7-8 pm UTC – presenting the solution: On the final day of the conference, there will be a third session in which you and your team will deliver a 5-minute flash talk on your idea. The ideas will then be judged by a panel, and delegates will be asked to vote for their favorite idea in a live poll. Winners will be announced at the end of the conference.

Once you’ve met on July 1st, you may to continue to communicate with your team outside the workshops, and guidance will be given to help you focus your ideas in the available time.

What are the EMPH Grand Challenge topics?

The following topics have been chosen as global health problems of a particularly challenging nature, which have broad impacts and implications: 

  • Aging & the diseases of aging
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Cancer
  • Changing health behavior
  • COVID-19
  • Diabetes
  • Health inequalities
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV
  • Malaria
  • Obesity
  • Tuberculosis
Use this link to register your interest and topic preferences for the ISEMPH 2021 Grand Challenges

Will there be prizes?

The prizes will be designed to support the winning team to develop their ideas further:

  • If the winning team presents a research proposal, Keith Mintzer (NIH/NHLBI) has kindly agreed to offer tips to help the winning team to develop their idea into a grant proposal, should they wish to do so.
  • If the winning team presents a paper outline, they will be invited to submit any resulting paper to the EMPH journal and, pending peer review, the open access fees would be covered. EMPH Editor-in-Chief, Charles Nunn, has also kindly offered to help the winners to develop the paper.

All members of the winning team, whether they presented a research proposal or a paper outline, will be offered free registration at the 2022 ISEMPH meeting. Furthermore, if the team develops the proposal to the stage of either data collection or publication, they will be invited to present their findings in a plenary slot at a future ISEMPH conference.

How will the winners be chosen?

There will be a panel of judges, who will choose the winning research/paper proposal, with the help of votes from the delegates. Our judges will be:

  • Keith Mintzer (NIH/NHLBI)
  • ISEMPH past President: Randolph Nesse
  • EMPH journal Editor-in-Chief: Charles Nunn
  • ISEMPH President-Elect: Frank Rühli

How do I sign up?

You’ll be able to choose up to 3 grand challenge topics that interest you when you register for the conference. We will use your selected challenge topics to assign you to a team of people who are interested in addressing the same challenge. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in the topic you choose, although topic experts will naturally be welcome. The idea is to assemble multidisciplinary teams who can bring fresh perspectives to the challenges. We will aim to create teams with a mix of expertise and different levels of experience.

Use this link to register your interest and topic preferences for the ISEMPH 2021 Grand Challenges

If you have any questions, please email Gillian Pepper:
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