A federal prize competition launched today is calling for innovative ideas for rapid, point-of-care laboratory diagnostic tests to combat the development and spread of drug resistant bacteria, a rising public health threat. Antibiotic resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge will award $20 million in prizes over all phases of the competition for new, innovative and novel laboratory diagnostic tests. The diagnostic tests being sought are those that identify and characterize antibiotic resistant bacteria and those that distinguish between viral and bacterial infections to reduce unnecessary uses of antibiotics, a major cause of drug resistance. The prize is sponsored by two U.S. Department of Health and Human Services components, the National Institutes of Health and the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in support of the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (link is external). ?The growing incidence of serious infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria presents a critical risk to the public health of our nation,? said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. ?My hope is that this competition will spur exceptional innovators to rise to the challenge and deliver effective tools to help manage this significant problem.? Scanning electron micrograph of neutrophil ingesting methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Scanning electron micrograph of neutrophil ingesting methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.NIAID Download Image (link is external) With real-time detection, healthcare providers would be able to identify infecting pathogens and resistance factors within hours, rather than the two to three days or longer that the standard microbiological culture processes require. Such knowledge would allow tailoring of treatments, minimizing the broad-spectrum antibiotic approach used by many clinicians today. ?This effort even goes beyond public health,? said Nicole Lurie, M.D., M.S.P.H., assistant secretary for preparedness and response. ?Combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a priority issue for economic and national security.? Concepts must be submitted by Jan. 9, 2017, for the first phase of the competition. Up to 20 semi-finalists will be selected from the applicant pool, each receiving up to $50,000. In the second phase of the competition, on Dec. 3, 2018, up to 10 finalists will be selected to each receive up to $100,000. These funds can be used to develop prototypes for evaluation by two CLIA (link is external)-certified independent laboratories, which will be considered when final winners are selected. In the final phase, winners are expected to be announced on July 31, 2020. The competition specifies that up to three winners can be selected, and winners will share an amount equal to or greater than $18 million. NIH?s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and ASPR?s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) each contributed $10 million to the challenge. The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provided technical and regulatory expertise to the design of the challenge competition. Technical criteria, objectives and performance characteristics of laboratory diagnostics that would be considered for the prize were informed by stakeholder input from a public workshop and a request for information. For more information about the challenge or how to apply, please visit the challenge website (link is external). About the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA): BARDA, within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, provides an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies. For more information about BARDA, visit www.phe.gov/about/BARDA/Pages/default.aspx (link is external). About the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR): ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities? ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. For more information about ASPR and for expertise, tools, and resources to help your community prepare, respond and recover from public health emergencies, visit www.phe.gov (link is external). About the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID): NIAID conducts and supports research ? at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide ? to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website. About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.