NIDA Challenge "CODE (Cause of Death Elucidated) in Drug Overdose: Rapid and portable cause of death detection technologies to improve drug overdose-related mortality counts"
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

March 18, 2022

Related Announcements


Issued by

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)



The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Plans to Announce a Prize Competition called CODE (Cause of Death Elucidated) in Drug Overdose: rapid and portable cause of death detection technologies to improve drug overdose-related mortality counts.

This Notice is provided to allow potential entrants/solvers additional time to develop innovative solutions for the competition.

The Announcement is expected to be published in August 2022 with submission window through late October 2022.

NIDA intends to award cash prizes for the challenge competition.


NIDA seeks to improve drug-involved overdose mortality counts by applying the power of the latest science and technology to forensic toxicology testing. Over the past 20 years, drug-involved overdose deaths have increased sharply, and this has strained the resources needed to accurately track the drug epidemic. From 1999 to 2017, approximately 20% of drug overdose deaths did not specify the drug involved. Because drug overdose mortality counts describing specific drugs are regularly underreported, this severely hinders accurate monitoring of death rates and curbs the ability of those in public health, research, policy, and government to identify threats in a timely manner and to implement effective interventions or care in communities impacted by drug overdoses. A significant hurdle to specifying the drugs involved in overdose deaths is the months-long lag time in obtaining results from toxicology testing. There is a critical and immediate need to improve and accelerate toxicology testing.

Prize Competition Details

The goal of the challenge competition is to transform toxicology testing with a moonshot device which should be: 1) self-contained and portable with the ability to be taken into the field, 2) capable of analyzing blood and/or other biological matrices with low cost per test, 3) easy to operate by users not trained in sophisticated research testing, 4) capable of detecting multiple classes of drugs and new analogs, and 5) deliver results in a short time.

NIDA aims to support the development of low cost, rapid and portable detection technologies that would reduce the time required to obtain toxicology results and certify the cause-of-death due to drugs. These devices should be a practical tool for any coroner or medical examiner office. This Notice alerts the scientific community that NIDA intends to hold an open prize competition.

Information on the NIDA Challenge will be provided at and

NIDA intends to conduct this challenge under the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Reauthorization Act of 2010, as amended [15 U.S.C. § 3719].



Please direct all inquiries to:

Tam Nguyen, PhD
NIDA/Office of Translational Initiatives and Program Innovations (OTIPI)
Telephone: 301-451-1203

Elena Koustova, PhD, MBA
NIDA/ Office of Translational Initiatives and Program Innovations (OTIPI)
Telephone: 301-496-8768