Cyagen Biosciences has committed to donate up to $83,250 of mouse model vector construction services as prizes for the Rare Genomic Institute’s BeHEARD (Helping Empower and Accelerate Research Discoveries) Challenge, which provides technology and financial grants for rare disease research. The BeHEARD competition is open globally to researchers, foundations, or anyone whose research is constrained by limited resources.


BeHEARD Technology Prizes Sponsored by Cyagen

Cyagen is sponsoring mouse model vector constructions for a range of genetic engineering techniques that aim to accommodate a wide variety of research projects. We are providing the following complimentary services through the BeHEARD competition:


Featured Winner from 2018 BeHEARD Competition

Dr. Michael Levy (Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School) studies transverse myelitis, a painful inflammation of the spinal cord, which causes weakness or paralysis of the legs and arms, sensory loss, and bowel and bladder dysfunction. There is currently no cure for the condition, and while some people experience a recovery after several months, others may suffer from permanent impairment or recurrent episodes.

Dr. Levy’s lab discovered a gene that is involved in transverse myelitis. However, due to the disease’s rarity (~1,400 new cases of transverse myelitis diagnosed each year in the United States), it has been a challenge for them to follow up with further research. “Funding for rare diseases is challenging because it’s difficult to make the case that the findings will be widely applicable to other diseases or populations,” explains Dr. Levy. “Rare disease research is most appealing to funders when the work can be extrapolated to other, more common diseases.”

Dr. Levy was awarded a mouse model vector construction from Cyagen through the 2018 BeHEARD competition. “The BeHeard award we earned provided a significant discount on production of a mouse model that we wanted to develop. Because there are only 8,000 people in the U.S. with transverse myelitis, we have not been able to raise enough money to support our research. But because of this award, we were able to finally afford to create the mouse model.” Dr. Levy’s lab has begun to study their mouse model, and has used their initial findings to prepare a grant application to submit to the NIH to further understand the role of the gene in causing the condition.

Read more feedback from winners of previous BeHEARD Competitions by visiting BeHEARD Highlights.


About the BeHEARD Competition

Applicants select one or more grants that they think would benefit their research, and submit a proposal for each one. Research proposals are evaluated by an expert panel of scientists, RG staff, and company representatives, who determine winners for each grant. Grants are awarded based on the technology’s fit with the research (if applicable), the feasibility of the research, and the potential for the research to advance rare disease treatments. In addition to the technology prizes featured in the 2020 competition, RG is also offering $100,000 of cash grants specifically dedicated to research on Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD) and similar diseases – visit the application page for details.

Participate in 3 Easy Steps:

  1. Choose your desired prize(s)
  2. Submit your rare disease research proposal(s) for each prize
  3. Winners get selected by a panel of experts

The 2020 BeHEARD competition is accepting applications for over $170,000 of technologies available for researchers! Please fill out the short (~2 page) application form and submit it by emailing it to Forms must be submitted by May 31, 2020 to qualify. Any questions may be sent to

Learn more about BeHEARD:


More Information About These Organizations

About the Rare Genomics Institute

Rare Genomics Institute (RG) is a non-profit that makes cutting edge research technologies and experts accessible to rare disease patients. By providing an expert network and an online crowdfunding mechanism, and partnering with top medical institutions, such as Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford, RG helps families fund and design personalized research projects for diseases so rare that no organization exists to help. Ultimately, RG aims to expand on its current genome sequencing-focused approach to enable community funding to support whatever type of research is necessary to get closer to rare disease therapeutics.  For more information about the Rare Genomics Institute, visit their website.


About Cyagen Biosciences

Cyagen Biosciences is the world's largest provider of custom-engineered mouse and rat model services, and also offers a comprehensive series of research-use stem cells and related culture reagents. Cyagen prides itself on its premium customer service:  including price-matching, client access to complimentary technical consultations, full confidentiality, and a 100% money-back service guarantee. We offer a "one-stop shop" tailored to all your gene research needs including BAC and PiggyBac transgenic services, CRISPR-mediated mouse and rat genome editing, and our proprietary TurboKnockout® technology - an ES cell mediated service that provides you with conditional knockout, reporter knockin and humanization mouse models in as little as 6-8 months. Founded in 2006, Cyagen is a 400-employee contract research organization and cell culture product manufacturer headquartered in Santa Clara, California, with additional locations in Japan and China, and production facilities in China. Cyagen’s mission is to bring outstanding-quality research reagents, tools, and services to the worldwide biological research community at highly competitive prices.



One-stop solution for gene targeting mouse model

TurboKnockout® Knockout Mice: ES cell mediated, IP Free, As fast as 6 months, No off-target effects

CRISPR Cas9 Knockout Mice: As fast as 3 months, Guaranteed germline transmitted F1 mice

Transgenic Mice: Quick turnaround time, High expression level

PiggyBac Transgenic Mice: More consistent expression, Defined region of integration, As fast as 3 months

CRISPR Knockin Mice: Large fragment up to 8kb, As fast as 4 months