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AMIA 2021 Student Design Challenge

We are no longer accepting proposals

AMIA is pleased to announce the 9th Annual Student Design Challenge (SDC). In this challenge, we invite teams of graduate students from different scientific disciplines and of various backgrounds to propose creative interactive solutions to challenging health problems. We seek novel solutions that incorporate cutting edge computational and interactive technologies and take advantage of the considerable advances in such research areas as biomedical informatics, human-computer interaction, computer science, information visualization, pervasive and ubiquitous computing, among many others.

Unlike previous student design challenges, this year’s challenge will not have a specific theme. Instead, we invite student teams to explore the space of creative design solutions that take a deeply user-centered approach to the design of novel interactive systems to improve health and the broader healthcare system. To support student teams in this undertaking, they will be invited to join a summer training program that includes didactic lecture, discussions and Q&A sessions with leading experts in HCI and biomedical informatics, and an opportunity to iteratively refine their design ideas with mentoring from experts in the field.

Proposal Submission

We invite teams of graduate students and trainees in biomedical informatics and related fields to prepare a brief (1-2 pages) proposal for innovative interactive solutions that address pressing problems related to health and healthcare. The proposal should clearly specify the selected problem, outline gaps in existing solutions targeting this problem, and describe the authors’ vision for their proposed solution. The five most innovative proposals will be invited to participate in a virtual summer training program.

Summer Training Program

During this program, the teams will be provided with training on topics related to the design of interactive systems in health, including but not limited to methods for understanding human practices and requirements gathering, design methods, evaluation methods, and others. The training will include virtual lectures, Q&A sessions with experts in the field, and practical exercises. Further, each team will have the opportunity to work with mentors who will provide teams with feedback on their emerging solutions. At the end of this period, the teams will be expected to fully articulate their proposed design concepts, develop a set of materials to illustrate their solution, and design an approach to evaluating their prototype in user studies. For this summer, our instructors/mentors include:

  • Susanne Bakken, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, Columbia University
  • Yunan Chen, PhD, University of California at Irvine
  • Kim Unertl, PhD, MS, Vanderbilt University
  • Andrew Miller, PhD, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
  • Madhu Reddy, PhD, Northwestern University
  • Lena Mamykina, PhD, Columbia University

Final Submission

At the end of the training program, the teams will submit an extended abstract of their final design solutions (more details will be provided to the selected teams about the structure of the extended abstract). All five teams will be asked to attend AMIA Annual Symposium and present their solutions during a dedicated AMIA session.


  • July 7 – Submission deadline for proposals
  • July 16 – Invitations to top 5 teams sent
  • July 22 – August 30 – summer training program
  • September 30 – Final submissions
  • November 2, 2021 – Presentation at the AMIA 2021 Annual Symposium


If you have any questions about this process, please send an email to


In previous years, Student Design Challenge focused on a specific problem related to health and healthcare. These problems varied from supporting clinical documentation, to new ways to providing decision support, to new ways of delivering healthcare at the time of global pandemic. This year, we decided to open the space of possible problems, and invite teams to choose any problem of significance to health and healthcare that can be supported and improved with an interactive solution. Student teams can rely on literature in the field, their personal clinical experience, and their previous work to identify problems they wish to pursue and directions for interactive solutions that could help to address these problems. We expect the teams to have sufficient understanding of the problems to articulate an initial proposal for an interactive solution; we also expect the teams to refine their understanding of the problem and their solution during the summer training program.

To qualify for participation, teams should include only students in degree-pursuing graduate programs (including clinicians in training, such as residents and fellows, as well as post-doctoral fellows pursing MA or MS degrees) or Graduate Certificates. Undergraduate students are welcome to participate in design teams, provided that they are supervised by graduate students. Given the nature of the creative process, we suggest that teams include no more than 4 or 5 individuals. Because of our focus on fostering multidisciplinary teams, the SDC will not accept submissions from single individuals. No faculty advising is required for participation; in fact, we encourage teams to work independently and with minimal faculty supervision.

To be considered for the inclusion in the challenge, the teams must begin by developing a brief (1-2 pages) proposal that specifies the problem and context, describes gaps in existing solutions, and proposes an innovative solution. The proposals will be judged on their innovation and transformative potential, as well as on their feasibility. The five teams selected to develop their proposals will be expected to articulate their solution in a way sufficient to demonstrate their functionality. This could include interactive prototypes or mockups. Fully functional prototypes are encouraged, but not required for the submission.

The Challenge Process

Each team will submit an abstract (1-2 pages) describing the specific challenge and context for their solution, gaps in existing decision support systems targeting their selected problem, their vision for the solution, and provide evidence of its feasibility (existing computational analytical engines either developed by the teams, or in published literature).

The submission process will be done through ScholarOne (more details on the submission process are to follow). The submissions will be evaluated through a peer-review process by the SDC steering committee.

The 5 best proposals will be invited to participate in the virtual summer training program delivered online (no travel required). The program will include a set of lectures on topics relevant to the design of interactive systems in health and clinical decision support followed by Q&A sessions and discussions with leading researchers in biomedical informatics and HCI. Further, the teams will have a chance to discuss their emerging solutions and receive feedback from mentors assigned to each team. Most of the training program is expected to occur in July-August 2021.

At the end of the training program, the teams will be asked to submit an extended abstract (5 page maximum) describing their solution. These abstracts will be submitted via email directly to the SDC chairs.

All five teams participating in the training program will be asked to present their solutions during a dedicated session at AMIA 2021. At least one member from each of the five teams will be expected to attend the conference to give an oral presentation illustrating their solution, discuss their solution, and the design process with conference attendees. AMIA will waive the registration fee for one presenter from each of the five teams, with the expectation that the presenter holds a student membership with AMIA.

To promote the spirit of a design challenge rather than a competition, there will be no judging. All five teams selected to participate in the challenge will be asked to present their projects.

Proposal Preparation

The participants will prepare an abstract (1-2 page) written in the AMIA format that must include:

  • Definition of the selected problem grounded in deep understanding of an identified health context
  • Discussion of gaps in existing solutions addressing the same problem
  • Description of the novelty/originality of the proposed solution
  • Establishing the feasibility of the proposed solution (evidence of existing computational capabilities, or knowledge needed to implement the proposed solution)

The completed abstract and any supplementary documents should be submitted using ScholarOne by 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 7, 2021. If you do not already have a ScholarOne account, you will need to create one. Your AMIA member log-in will not provide access to ScholarOne. If you are not sure if you already have an account or if you have one, but do not remember your username and password, please contact Dasha Cohen at

Proposal Review Criteria

The proposals will be reviewed using the following criteria:

  • Justification of the selected problem (does the proposal provide sufficient justification for the selected problem and its applicability for the theme of the challenge)
  • Fit to the problem (how likely is the proposed solution to address the selected problem?)
  • Innovation (how novel and original is the solution?)
  • Feasibility of the solution (evidence of computational analytical capability, or knowledge resources necessary to implement the solution)


The SDC presentations will take place during a dedicated session at the AMIA Annual Symposium.


  • July 7 – Submission deadline for proposals
  • July 16 – Invitations to top 5 teams sent
  • July 22 – August 30 – summer training program
  • September 30 – Final submissions
  • November 2, 2021 – Presentation at the AMIA 2021 Annual Symposium


If you have any questions about this process, please send an email to