Competition Rules

NIH Common Fund 10-Year Commemoration Song and Video Competitions


To view VIDEO contest entries, click here.
To view SONG contest entries, click here.

Contest Updates:

The NIH is extremely proud of the creativity of its Grantees and Staff during the NIH Common Fund Commemoration Song and Video Contests.​

In an effort to highlight some of that creativity, three videos have been chosen by NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, as “NIH Selected” videos. This includes one NIH Selected Winner and two NIH Selected Runners-up. The winning NIH Selected video will join the winners chosen by popular vote in being exhibited during the June 19th, Common Fund 10th Anniversary Symposium.​

All Song Contest entries are available at: Dr. Collins completed judging the entries and chose two winners.

The NIH Selected Winner and Runner-up Videos and the Song Contest Winners are:

  • NIH Selected Winning Video: "Role of the Innate Immune System in Aging and Development of Alzheimer's Disease” Dr. Howard Weiner; Harvard University"
  • NIH Selected Runner Up Video: “Breaking (Bad) Barriers” Dr. Richard Larson; University of New Mexico
  • NIH Selected Runner Up Video: “Clot Blocking” Dr. Barry Coller & Dr. Daniel Gareau; Rockefeller University
  • Song Contest Winner: “The NIH Common Fund (Say Hey)” Dr. David Chambers, NIH National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Song Contest Winner: "Song for the Common Fund in Year 10” Dr. Gene Robinson and Dr. Claudia Lutz, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

All the NIH Selected Videos can be viewed at:
All the Song Contest entries can be viewed at:

Winning videos were selected by popular vote. The Common Fund is proud of the hard work and creativity of all the contest entrants. Although voting for the contest is over, we encourage you to continue to view and “Like” the videos to show the contestants your support.​ Visit: to see who won and to view all our fantastic competition entries.

Contest Entry Submission:

Submission to the NIH Common Fund Song and Video Competitions is closed. Thank you to all who participated!

Competition Description:

In June of 2014, the NIH will hold a symposium to commemorate 10 combined years of achievement by the NIH Roadmap and the NIH Common Fund, two programs designed to catalyze innovation in biomedical research.  The NIH is proud of Roadmap and Common Fund grantees’ achievements including numerous publications in high-impact journals, prestigious awards, and new tools and programs developed for the research community.

As part of the 10-Year Commemoration of the NIH Roadmap/Common Fund, the NIH Office of Strategic Coordination (OSC) is organizing two competitions to encourage creative descriptions of Roadmap/Common Fund programs to be shared with the general public.  Grantees and their subordinates are encouraged to craft song lyrics or to produce brief videos that explain their work in accessible, but entertaining ways.  The best songs and videos will be featured at the June 19, 2014 10-Year Commemoration Symposium and via live videocast, with songs performed by NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, himself.  Participation in the contests is completely voluntary.  Entries for both competitions are due by 5:00 ET on Friday, April 4th.


  • Participants must be at least 18-years of age.
  • All Principal Investigators (PIs) currently or formerly supported by grants from the NIH Roadmap or NIH Common Fund are eligible to participate in both competitions.
  • All students, postdocs, technicians and office staff currently or formerly supported by grants from the NIH Roadmap or NIH Common Fund are also eligible to participate in both competitions.
  • All NIH employees currently or formerly associated with the administration of an NIH Roadmap/Common Fund program are eligible to participate in the Song Competition.
  • Unsure of your eligibility?
    • Visit the NIH Common Fund website and click on a link for a specific Common Fund program.  Click on the “Funding” tab and then click on the “Funded Research” subtab to see if your PI’s name is listed.
    • Names of PIs who participated in older NIH Roadmap/Common Fund activities or who just received a grant may be difficult to find on the Common Fund website.  See the contacts below to obtain more information.
  • All members of the OSC staff who will be screening competition entries are ineligible to participate in the competition(s) for which they will be screening competitors’ entries.

Selecting winners

    • Song competition entries will be screened by NIH Office of Strategic Coordination staff for adherence to competition rules.
    • Depending on the number of entries, the NIH Office of Strategic Coordination may form a committee to vote on a selection of songs to be presented to Dr. Collins.
    • The ultimate winner will be selected by Dr. Collins.
    • All entries are due by 5:00 ET on Friday, April 4th.
    • Winners will be announced in April of 2014.
    • Video competition entries will be screened by OSC staff for adherence to competition rules.
    • Videos that adhere to the rules, will be hosted on the NIH Office of the Director (OD) YouTube Channel.
    • The 4-5 videos that receive the most “Likes” on YouTube will be selected as winners.
    • All videos that successfully communicate work done by grantees will be featured on the NIH Common Fund website.
    • All entries are due by 5:00 ET on Friday, April 4th.
    • Winners will be announced in May of 2014.

How to enter:

    • Write lyrics that describe the activities, mission, or achievements of the whole NIH Common Fund in a manner that is accessible to the general public.
    • Ideally, song lyrics will be creative, clever and entertaining.
    • Melodies to accompany the song lyrics are not necessary, but if desired, melodies can be included with the competition submission in the form of sheet music.
    • Fill out the online submission and consent form (link will be posted in the near future). We are no longer requiring a written description of the song lyrics.
    • Submitting the form will generate an email with instructions for uploading your song lyrics and sheet music (if desired).
    • Come up with a creative concept for your video that describes the work done with NIH Roadmap/Common Fund funding.
    • Examples include: laboratory soap opera, interpretive dance, mime, music video, game shows, film noir detective story, animations, puppets, etc.
    • For inspiration see:
    • While your video should be entertaining, remember that you are trying to explain your research to someone unfamiliar with your field.  Avoid jargon!
    • Film/edit your video keeping in mind:
      • Your video should brief (approximately 90 SECONDS)
      • Shoot decent quality video:
      • Use something that can shoot videos at least 640 x 480 pixels in size.
      • 1280 x 720 pixels is better, especially if your video is selected as a winner and shown on a big screen during the 10-Year Commemoration Symposium.
      • Make sure there is plenty of light.  Outdoor light and focused light from above are best.  Fluorescent-lit offices, classrooms and labs with no natural light are not as good, but just make sure that all participants in the video are clearly visible.
      • Choose a setting that does not detract from the content of your video (ie. is not cluttered).
      • If you have dialog or other sounds made during filming that need to be heard, use a good microphone.  If the audience can’t hear your participants, they are unlikely to respond favorably to your video on YouTube.
    • Fill out the online submission and consent form including a brief (100 word) explanation of the NIH Roadmap/Common Fund supported activity described in the video (remember no jargon!) (link will be posted in the near future).
    • Submitting the form will generate an email with instructions for uploading your video.


  • All decisions made by the NIH Office of Strategic Coordination regarding adherence to contest rules and appropriateness of song lyrics/videos are final.
  • All selection of contest winners is final.
  • By signing the release forms you:
    • Consent to the use of your personal videos or song lyrics by the NIH, for all purposes of education, instruction, or public information, with or without the use of your name in any medium, including by publication, display, the Internet or in promotional material.
    • Understand that the material may be reproduced by NIH and others, authorized by NIH, without further permission.  This includes allowing NIH to provide the material to reporters who are covering NIH-related news.
    • Release NIH and others from any claims arising out of such uses.
    • Certify that you are not using copyrighted material without the copyright owner's consent.

Prize Details:

  • For both competitions, winners will receive:
    • Recognition via NIH media outlets and the live videocast of the 10-Year Commemoration Symposium.
    • Certificates signed by Dr. Francis Collins.
    • Invitations to attend the 10-Year Commemoration Symposium to receive their certificates in person.
  • Winners of the song competition will receive a signed copy of their song lyrics as performed by Dr. Collins.
  • No prize of monetary value will be offered for these competitions.  Winners will pay any and all travel-related costs if they choose to attend the 10-Year Commemoration Symposium on June 19, 2014.


Please send all questions regarding these competitions to the Office of Strategic Coordination at:

This page last reviewed on May 1, 2017