The audacious goals entries will be de-identified and then will be judged by a selection board composed of NIH employees in compliance with the requirements of the America COMPETES Act and the Department of Health and Human Services judging guidelines. Judges will be named after commencement of the challenge and will consist of senior scientists and clinicians with knowledge of vision research and ocular disorders as well as allied biomedical disciplines. The judges will consult with technical advisors from biomedical, clinical, or other scientific disciplines if it is necessary to properly evaluate entries. The judges will make selections based upon the following criteria:
- Relevance to the NEI Mission: Each entry will be rated on how the goal would further the NEI mission to conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the blind.
- Audaciousness: Each entry will be rated on whether the proposed goal is bold, daring, original or unconventional, exceptionally innovative, creative, novel, or any combination.
- Feasibility: Although it is recommended that contestants consider about a 10 year time period for achieving a proposed goal, NEI recognizes that estimates of the timeframe for an audacious goal could vary considerably depending on the nature of the goal. Thus, audacious goals with shorter or longer time periods may be acceptable. Each entry will be rated on how well it describes the technological, scientific, or other advances that are needed to reach the goal.
- Scope: Each entry will be rated on the extent to which it is broad and/or far-reaching. Goals can include basic, translational, clinical research, or any combination. Goals may also encompass training or health information dissemination as appropriate within the NEI Mission. The goal could have multiple components, for example research requiring multidisciplinary approaches or involvement of multiple laboratories. Even a goal that addresses a disease affecting a relatively small number of patients may be considered broad and far-reaching if it requires the development of tools and techniques that can be applied to other problems (see the historical example of Lebers Congenital Amaurosis in the additional information section below).
- Impact: Each entry will be rated on its transformative potential; its value in exerting a positive and powerful influence on the NEI mission.
The evaluation process will begin by de-identifying the entries and removing those that are not responsive to this Challenge or not in compliance with all Challenge rules. The judges may consult with technical advisors with relevant expertise if it is necessary to properly evaluate entries. Judges and technical advisors will examine multiple entries in accord with the aforementioned judging criteria. The judges will meet to discuss the most meritorious entries. Final selection of up to 20 winners will be determined by a vote of the judges.