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 Back to NEI 3-D Retina Organoid Challenge (3-D ROC)
Original Fields(6:13 p.m. ET, May 02, 2017)
Updated Fields(10:57 a.m. ET, May 30, 2017)

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NEI 3-D Retina Organoid Challenge (3-D ROC)


Insights wanted: leveraging mini-retinas for big breakthroughs in eye disease


The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is seeking ideas for how to develop advances in vitro 3-D human retina organoid models. The goal of the challenge is to turn innovative ideas into concrete concepts for the development of a 3-D system that models the cellular organization and function of the human retina. Full description and details of this prize competition are defined on NEI’s challenge details page. NEI is seeking innovative solutions to achieve significant advances over currently available protocols to grow retina organoids. As solvers address the evaluation criteria outlined below, they should state how and why they expect their proposed new methods or changes/additions to existing methods will improve aspects of retina organoids. Solutions must outline ideas to produce 3-D retina organoids that: Are generated from human cells (derived from iPSC, federally approved ESC, multipotent cells, or adult cells subjected to a combination of transdifferentiation/reprogramming methods); Are physiologically and morphologically relevant to normal or disease state; and Consist of the major retina cell types and represent their biological functions and interplay. Solutions that propose to grow cells in 2-D culture using a tissue-on-a-chip system are not of interest for this Challenge. However, creative approaches that incorporate use of microfluidics or perfusion to enhance culture of 3-D organoids are encouraged.


Type of Challenge







All details related to rules and eligibility are defined on NEI’s challenge details page. Only complete applications will be reviewed. To participate: Must be 18 years of age or older May participate individually or as part of one or more teams Each team’s designated captain must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident To win prizes: Must be a US citizen or permanent resident Agree to the eligibility rules and requirements listed on NEI’s challenge details page Register to participate on Trainee Category: Must be currently pursuing a degree; documentation required. (Post-docs must show proof of position.); May compete as an individual or as part of a team of trainees; May compete in trainee category AND as a member of a non-trainee team (letter from advisor stating that ideas submitted for Trainee Category are trainee’s own independent ideas); Solutions in the Trainee Category will be evaluated separately using the defined evaluation criteria and awarded separate prizes

Submission start

12 p.m. ET, Jun 01, 2017

Submission end

12 p.m. ET, Aug 01, 2017

Judging start

12 p.m. ET, Aug 02, 2017

Judging end

1 p.m. ET, Sep 15, 2017

The prizes

The prize name: NEI 3D ROC winner(s) The cash amount: 90000 The prize description: The cash prize may be split between up to 3 winners. The prize name: NEI 3D ROC winner(s) - trainee category The cash amount: 10000 The prize description: The cash prize may be split between up to 3 winners.

The judging criteria

This judging criteria: Cell Type, Structure, Viability, and Function This judging description: • Cell Types: What aspects of protocol ensure that all five neuronal retina cell types (photoreceptors, bipolar cells, ganglion cells, horizontal cells, and amacrine cells) will be produced on included? Will other cell types be generated or included? If the method eliminates a cell type, justify why it is not included (i.e. the disease being modelled lacks the specific cell type). • Structure: What approach (e.g., self-organization or bioengineering with scaffolds, bioprinting, and/or a microfluidic apparatus) is proposed to achieve 3-D assembly? What aspects of the protocol ensure that 3-D organoids will be properly oriented and have layers recapitulating a laminated retina? • Viability: Does the protocol incorporate new procedural steps or technologies that aim to increase duration of viability as compared to current protocols? • Functional characterization of cell types: Does the solution incorporate novel steps or technologies that may enable all cell types to remain functional through the latest viable timepoint? This judging percentage: 50 This judging criteria: Robustness and Reproducibility This judging description: • Is the protocol sufficiently clear and detailed to facilitate inter/intra-laboratory utility and reproducibility? What other resources will be developed to facilitate transferability? This judging percentage: 25 This judging criteria: Scientific applications and uses for models - biology/disease modeling or high content screening This judging description: Biology/disease modeling • What aspects of the protocol are in place to improve faithful recapitulation of the biological complexity? • How will this recapitulation be validated? • How will viability be tested, and how is the disease state expected to affect viability? High content screening • How will the proposed model’s amenability to high content screening be enhanced? How will this be tested? • How will the model’s ability to recapitulate known retina toxicities be tested? • What methods will be used to mass-produce the proposed model? This judging percentage: 25 This judging criteria: This judging description: This judging percentage:

The judges

This judge name:

Terms conditions

Content and information related to NEI’s 3-D Retina Organoid Challenge is only summarized here on By submitting a solution, solvers are agreeing to rules, terms, and conditions defined on NEI’s challenge details page (

How to enter

Go to NEI’s challenge details page and see “Registration Process for Participants” and “Submission Requirements and Template.” Use the submission template provided to format proposals. Create an account on, or use an existing account, to submit your solution, including all information required in the application template.