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Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Awards $100,000 to Winners of “Lung Cancer Early Detection Challenge: Concept to Clinic”—Crowdsourcing Challenge Designed to Accelerate Delivery of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the Clinic

On February 6, 2018, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF), headquartered in San Carlos, California, announced that Willi Gierke, an IT systems engineering student, will receive more than $30,000 as the leader in points in the “Lung Cancer Early Detection Challenge: Concept to Clinic.” Gierke, a master’s student at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, and more than 600 contributors from around the world have been working in a collaborative fashion to create open-source software with the goal of building out artificial intelligence (AI) that will help lung cancer patients live longer. “The focus of the challenge was to make artificial intelligence advances useful, not just for data scientists interested in cutting-edge methods, but for clinicians working on the front lines of lung cancer detection and the patients they serve,” said Bonnie J. Addario, a 14-year lung cancer survivor and ALCF founder. “My hope is that the winners of this challenge continue the momentum of this exciting project to help radiologists detect lung cancer earlier and save lives.” During the challenge, run by DrivenData ( in partnership with ALCF, contributors used input from patients and radiologists to build out state-of-the-art algorithms applied to the detection and assessment of individual nodules from CT scans. Throughout the competition, a technical panel of experts awarded points and prizes to data scientists, engineers, User Interface (UI) developers, and coders based on how valuable their submissions were to the project in the different areas of need: AI-powered prediction models, back-end engineering, front-end design implementation, and community development.

“I really liked the challenge of building a piece of software that should actually be used by clinicians,” Gierke said. “While the results of the Data Science Bowl 2017 ( are outstanding without any doubt, the algorithms that were developed for [that] competition cannot be used in their current forms by radiologists. This challenge was aimed at making the developed approaches available to medical experts, which is a crucial follow-up to such a pure data science competition.”

The top prize winners in the “Lung Cancer Early Detection Challenge: Concept to Clinic,” and the amounts of their awards are as follows: Willi Gierke, Student, Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam, Germany – $30,840; Anton Dobrenkii, Student, Innopolis University, Ufa, Russia – $26,530; Serhiy Shekhovtsov, Software Developer, Lviv, Ukraine – $15,989.

“Building, training, and validating algorithms is only the very first step in taking better care of patients,” said Adjunct Professor Jason M. Hostetter, MD, from the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, one of the challenge’s advisors.

“The next huge challenge is making these algorithms work in the real world, in the hands of clinicians who are face-to-face with a patient. We will need better software tools to make this possible, and the ‘Concept to Clinic’ challenge is a great way to address this need collaboratively.”

As one of the few patient-driven, patient-focused nonprofits that run crowdsourcing challenges, this is the third year that ALCF has announced the results of a crowdsourcing challenge.

The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 55 percent when the disease is still in the lung, but just 4 percent once it has spread to other parts of the body. Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the world, taking the lives of more people than the next three most common cancers (breast, colon, prostate) combined. This year, physicians will diagnose nearly 225,000 Americans with lung cancer.

In addition to monetary awards provided by ALCF, several of the challenge partners have made prizes available throughout the competition, recognizing the efforts of everyone who participates. In-kind sponsors include Amazon Web Services, Docker, Fossa GitHub, and Travis CI.

To learn more about the challenge and watch the video, click here:


The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) is one of the largest philanthropies (patient-founded, patient-focused, and patient-driven) devoted exclusively to eradicating lung cancer through research, early detection, education, and treatment. The foundation’s goal is to work with a diverse group of physicians, organizations, industry partners, individuals, patients, survivors, and their families to identify solutions and make timely and meaningful change and turn lung cancer into a chronically managed disease by 2023.

The ALCF was established on March 1, 2006 as a 501c(3) nonprofit organization and has raised over $30 million for lung cancer research and related programs. The foundation has received four stars from Charity Navigator and has earned the platinum GuideStar nonprofit seal of transparency. For more information about the ALCF please visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

[Winners Announced-Press release] [Challenge Launched-Press release] [DrivenData] [Video] [Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation]