Frequently Asked Questions

General information

  1. Who should enter the Challenge?

    We are looking for highly motivated principal investigators with recognised expertise in their chosen field, who are excited about the opportunity to partner with a leading pharmaceutical company to accelerate advancement of their research, and whose institutions support their entry into the Challenge. Investigators should possess capabilities to conduct follow-up work on compounds. See eligibility criteria for more information.

  2. Who is eligible to enter?

    Principal Investigators who are affiliated with any research institution, college or university within a 150 mile radius of the Massachusetts State House in Boston are eligible.

    Those investigators whose application does not conflict with any of the Challenge Terms and Conditions.

    Employees of GlaxoSmithKline, its officers, directors, subsidiaries, affiliates, their respective subsidiaries, members of the immediate families (defined as spouse, child, sibling, parent or grandparent), and members of the households (whether related or not) of any of the above are NOT eligible to participate or win in this Challenge.

  3. Do I need to be a U.S. citizen in order to submit an entry to the Challenge?

    No, you must meet the eligibility requirements as stated above, however.

  4. Who is organizing the Challenge?

    Discovery Fast Track is sponsored by GSK through GlaxoSmithKline’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc).

  5. Does winning automatically guarantee a DPAc agreement?

    A subsequent DPAc agreement that envisions development of probes to medicines is not a guaranteed outcome of GSK's Discovery Fast Track Boston Challenge. DPAc agreements involve a separate contract negotiation, between GSK and a research institution, to determine terms, milestones and royalties specific to that collaboration. The intent of Discovery Fast Track is to offer GSK's screening capabilities to identify chemical probes that could help develop a novel target towards a potential DPAc Agreement.

How to enter

  1. Why should I inform my Technology Transfer Office (TTO) that I plan to enter the Challenge?

    All investigators who apply to the Challenge waive any claims to confidentiality in their 1-page initial application. You are required to consult with your Technology Transfer Office (TTO) staff member(s) before applying to the Challenge in order to confirm that your application does not contain undisclosed subject matter that may be patentable.

    Before you can submit an application, you will be required to acknowledge that you have notified your TTO that you intend to enter the Challenge and specifically provide within the application itself the email address for one of your institution’s TTO staff members.

    Upon submission of the application, a university TTO staff member must provide approval via email for each application in order to allow our GSK judges to start their review. Until this email confirmation is received from an institution’s TTO, our GSK judges will be unable to view your application.

    TTOs are encouraged to provide an approval email confirmation within five business days from the date we alert the TTO of the application submission, or to deny approval and request that the application is withdrawn from the Challenge. TTO staff members will receive regular email reminders until they have approved or denied the application. The final deadline for TTO approval confirmation is June 4, 2016 (8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time; 10 business days after the close of registration). If the TTO approval is not confirmed by this deadline, GSK will withdraw the application from the Challenge, as per the withdrawal process.

    To learn more, see "TTO Info".

  2. What happens if my institution does not have a Technology Transfer Office or is not associated with a Technology Transfer Office?

    Please contact the administrators of the Challenge at

  3. What happens if as a principal investigator I own my Intellectual Property?

    Please contact the administrators of the Challenge at

  4. Why is a Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA) offered to finalists but not to all applicants?

    A CDA is intended for use when confidential information is being shared between two parties and is not appropriate when only non-confidential information is being shared.

    Hence, all finalists and their respective institution will be requested to enter into a Challenge Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) in order to protect the interests of the investigator, institution and GSK so that the five-page proposal to be submitted by finalists can contain confidential information.

    The principal investigator finalists and their Tech Transfer Office (TTO) will also need to be agreeable to the high level principles of a full DPAc agreement to be discussed under CDA prior to submission of the 5-page confidential proposal so that the five-page proposal to be submitted by finalists can contain confidential information.

  5. Why does GSK require that my institution agree to execute a Challenge Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) if I am selected as a winner?

    If you are selected as a finalist, you and your TTOs will be asked to initiate discussions to confirm that your institution can execute the Challenge Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). This early action will enable sufficient time for your institution to review and understand the MTA before winners are selected.

    The purpose of the MTA is to facilitate sharing biological reagents with GSK to enable screening of the investigator's target using our encoded library technology (ELT). The MTA also governs the “next steps” that may result from conducting the screen by GSK, including the potential sharing of structures for tool compounds between us and your institution, while simultaneously protecting the intellectual property rights of both parties.

    Once winners are selected, GSK’s offer to screen the investigator’s target is conditional upon execution of the Challenge MTA by the winner’s institution.

  6. Is the Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA) or the Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) for the Challenge negotiable?

    No. These are standard agreements.

    Since signing the MTA is a condition of being confirmed as a winner, all Challenge winners are required to sign the same MTA. This is required in order to maintain fairness in the Challenge.

    GSK encourages you to seek confirmation from your institution’s TTO that the terms are acceptable prior to making your application.

  7. Will there be grant money from this Challenge to support my research?

    No. The Challenge does not provide grant money to the winners. The Challenge prize is a unique opportunity for confirmed winners to have their drug discovery concept screened against GSK’s proprietary encoded library.

    If confirmed winners advance to negotiate a DPAc agreement, GSK will provide grant money for collaborative research and financial rewards when pre-defined pre-clinical and clinical milestones occur. In cases where a project leads to the successful launch of a medicine, financial returns will be shared through royalty payments.

  8. Do I need to submit the actual target in the initial application?

    Yes, GSK requires this information to enable the judging panel to assess (i) the merit of the applications received and (ii) possible conflicts of interest with existing GSK projects. The reagent and assay must be your own work and derive from work conducted within your institution or one from which you and your institution have the right to transfer/license.

  9. Can my proposal include the use of commercially purchased reagents?

    Yes, any commercially available reagents can be included in your proposal.

  10. What happens if additional materials that require an MTA are necessary after the original MTA has been signed by winners?

    We ask that the TTO staff member(s) agree to all materials that are known to be included in the proposal when agreeing to the MTA. If it becomes apparent that additional, non-commercially available materials will be needed for the MTA as we work with you on the research plan, the materials could be added to the MTA and research plan at the time. If the MTA has been signed, we would amend the schedule or research plan to include any additional materials that we collectively agree are necessary.

  11. May I send more than one entry?

    Yes. There is no limit on the number of entries an investigator may submit nor to the number of applications that come from any single institution. Each application must encompass a separate, individual hypothesis and be approved by the institution’s TTO.

  12. How do I obtain an application?

    Entry forms for the Discovery Fast Track Boston Challenge are available on the Challenge website.

  13. Do the character limits within the application form refer to characters alone (letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.), or does the limit also include spaces?

    The application field limits include characters as well as spaces.

  14. Does the Discovery Fast Track application require both the submission form on the website and a separate one-page proposal?

    No, they are the same thing. The fields provided in the online application comprise the “one page summary” that will be reviewed by our GSK judges to determine finalists.

  15. If I applied to previous Discovery Fast Track Challenges, may I apply to the 2016 Boston Discovery Fast Track Challenge?

    Yes, we encourage you to submit to the Challenge, especially if you have made scientific progress since a previous Challenge.

  16. Where do I send my completed application?

    Applications will only be accepted online through the Discovery Fast Track portal.

  17. May I withdraw from the Challenge?

    Yes, if you have already submitted an application and you decide to withdraw from the Challenge, you should write to us at and formally request that your application be destroyed. GSK will contact you immediately to initiate a process to delete the application.

    Please understand that GSK cannot enter into correspondence with you regarding the details of your application.

Intellectual property

  1. Do I forfeit my intellectual property rights by submitting an application to the Discovery Fast Track Boston Challenge?

    Initial applications are considered non-confidential. Consequently if you believe that any aspect of your application would constitute a patentable invention, you should discuss with your institution TTO staff member(s) the possibility of filing a patent application prior to submitting your initial application or to submitting your application without referencing the potentially patentable information.

Selection process

  1. Who are the judges?

    Judges are GSK employees and GSK consultants bound by our confidentiality agreements who are physicians, scientists, researchers and other experts in the field of biology, chemistry, medicine, pharmacology and other disciplines related to drug discovery and development.

  2. What criteria are considered by the judges to determine the finalists and winners?

    • Strength of the therapeutic hypothesis
    • Degree of novelty and originality of the work presented
    • Suitability of the tagged protein reagent for use in selection protocols
    • Potential impact or benefit of the target to medicine (unmet medical need)
    • Tractability or feasibility of the target to be favorably modulated by a small molecule
    • Investigator’s and institution’s capabilities to support entry into the Discovery Fast Track Challenge and for joint execution of a DPAc collaboration
  3. Where does the final judging round take place?

    Each finalist will have the opportunity to present his/her proposal to the expert judging panel at a scheduled face-to-face meeting to be held in Waltham, MA on Thursday, September 8 and Friday, September 9, 2016.

  4. Why does GSK state that they will be selecting ‘up to’ 15 finalists and ‘up to’ 6 winners rather than a specified number?

    We reserve the right to select fewer than 15 finalists and/or fewer than 6 winners for any reason. Specifically, when there is an insufficient number of eligible applications and/or there is an insufficient number of eligible applications satisfactorily aligned with the pre-defined judging criteria to warrant being progressed through the Challenge as a finalist and/or winner. The odds of being selected as a winner depend on the number of applicants, how the judging panel rates an investigator’s concept based on the criteria and how it compares with other concepts.

Notification of winners

  1. When are the finalists and winners notified?

    Finalists will be notified in July 2016. Winners will be notified in November 2016 and publically announced following finalization of the appropriate collaboration agreements in December 2016. There will be an ELT Orientation Day for winners on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at the GSK ELT Screening Facility in Waltham, MA.

    Unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email in July 2016. Winners (subject to confirmation by execution of the Challenge MTA) will be publicly announced following finalization of the appropriate collaboration agreements.

  2. Will I receive personal feedback on my application if I do not win?

    GSK cannot guarantee individual feedback to all of applicants, but in many cases we will provide feedback to individuals if requested; however, all finalists will receive feedback on their presentations to the final round judges.

  3. What happens if, under the Challenge MTA, the results from the winner’s screen are negative and/or neither GSK nor the investigator/institution wants to enter into a full DPAc agreement?

    As per the terms of the Challenge Material Transfer Agreement (MTA):

    If the results of the screen are such that the investigator and GSK agree there is little value in continuing the relationship and the relationship ends, GSK will have no obligation to provide to the institution or to publish any structures of any chemical probes from the research. See Research Outcome 4 in the MTA. For a fixed period of time (three years from the effective date of the MTA), GSK retains the right to subsequently decide to work on the project using the results obtained and will notify the institution to allow the institution a second opportunity to enter into a DPAc agreement with GSK.

  4. What happens if, after entering into the Challenge MTA, the institution desires to enter into a DPAc agreement but GSK chooses not to proceed?

    As per the terms of the Challenge Material Transfer Agreement (MTA):

    If the institution sees value and wishes to expand the relationship but GSK decides not to proceed, GSK will, at its sole discretion, either (i) provide 1–3 structures to the institution, or (ii) together, GSK and the institution will publish 1–3 structures. In return, GSK and the institution would agree to a revenue share and/or royalty payments to reflect GSK’s contribution to any commercialisation activities by the institution.

  5. What happens if, after entering into the Challenge MTA, GSK desires to enter into a DPAc agreement, but the institution declines to proceed?

    As per the terms of the Challenge Material Transfer Agreement (MTA):

    If the institution does not want to continue the relationship but GSK desires to continue the research, then GSK would be free to proceed with an internal program and the structures of any chemical probes would not be revealed to the investigator and institution. The institution would grant GSK a non-exclusive license under the institution’s arising intellectual property under the Challenge MTA, and in return, GSK would pay the institution pre-clinical and clinical milestones payments (as agreed between GSK and the institution).

  6. If the screening results are positive, how will I know if a full DPAc agreement will be initiated?

    As per the terms of the Challenge Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), GSK and the institution can negotiate a full DPAc agreement with potential further research funding toward the development of a new medicine.

    If no agreement can be made, then GSK can elect outcome three as defined in the MTA.

  7. If I am selected as a winner and compounds are identified for my target, will I be able to publish the results?

    We are aware that publications are important for investigators and the research community at large. As a result of the research, there are several outcomes that GSK and the winning investigator(s) may pursue, including publications.

    If both GSK and the institution desire to enter into a DPAc Agreement, publication rights will be negotiated through the terms of the DPAc Agreement. A key element of the DPAc publication policy is to protect Intellectual Property.

    If the institution sees value and wishes to expand the relationship, but GSK does not wish to proceed, GSK will, at its sole discretion, either (i) provide compound structures from the Research to the institution, or (ii) together, GSK and the institution will publish compound structures from the Research. In return, GSK and the institution would agree to a revenue share and/or royalty payments to reflect GSK’s contribution to any commercialisation activities by the institution.

  8. How do I unsubscribe from the Challenge update emails?

    To unsubscribe to the updates, visit Unsubscribe.

  9. What if I have another question?

    If you have other questions beyond what is provided in the Challenge FAQs, you can email the Discovery Fast Track Administrator at Your questions will be given prompt attention by a member of the Discovery Fast Track team. Answers provided might also be shared on the GSK Challenge webpage if they may be helpful to other investigators or institution TTOs.

    Please understand that GSK cannot enter into correspondence with you regarding the details of your application.