The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and AcademyHealth are pleased to announce a competition for graduate students (masters or doctoral level) to create interactive data visualizations that address public health issues using NCHS trend data for use by one or more audiences.

NCHS data cover a wide array of topics that can be explored across demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic characteristics. This range can make it challenging to present data to different audiences, which include policymakers, researchers, community-based organizations, and members of the public, who may not have the time or resources to analyze the data themselves.

NCHS wants your help to achieve several goals, specifically, to see how interactive visualizations can:

  • incorporate HUS machine-readable files,
  • solve specific problems we have encountered (such as uncertainty, inflection points, footnotes, or differential data availability for subgroups), 
  • incorporate external data (if desired) when using the HUS machine readable files, and
  • be used to simplify the display of complex statistical information.

Challenge and Award

The challenge is to create an interactive data visualization that uses two or more of the specified machine-readable tables from the annual congressionally mandated NCHS publication Health, United States (HUS). The interactive data visualization should (1) include interactive elements through which users can change the display of visuals on the page and (2) identify and explain an important trend or disparity in public health, telling a cogent and policy-relevant story in the process. Please note that tooltips do not count as an interactive element.

Two winning teams will receive complimentary registration to attend the April 2022 Health Datapalooza and National Health Policy Conference or an equivalent monetary award. 

The application cycle is now closed.


  • Application Cycle Opens: September 13, 2021
  • Application Cycle Closes: November 15, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. ET
  • December 2021: Winners Announced 

Who Should Enter?

This Data Visualization Challenge is geared towards U.S. graduate students who are interested in innovating the statistical display of public health trends for various target audiences. The Challenge serves as an opportunity for those who are looking to earn visibility and experience as a public health or data science researcher. Graduate students (masters or doctoral) of any academic discipline may apply as individuals or in teams of up to 3 people. Working with a faculty mentor is permitted, although not required.

  • All participants must be aged 18 years or over at the start of the competition. 
  • All participants must be United States citizens.
  • Participants shall not be:
    • a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment; 
    • a Federal employee working on their applications during assigned duty hours;
    • an employee of for-profit companies or organizations;
    • an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); or
    • Federal grantees or contractors.


Frequently Asked Questions


For more information please contact nchs@academyhealth.org.

2019 - 2022 Board of Advisors

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Member, Researcher

Becky Briesacher, Ph.D.

Associate Professor - Northeastern University

Becky Briesacher is an Associate Professor in the School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy and Health Systems Sciences at the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. Read Bio

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Member, Researcher

Leighton Ku, Ph.D, M.P.H.

Professor - George Washington University

Dr. Ku is a Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and a Director in the Center for Health Policy Research at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Read Bio

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Member, Researcher

Jill A. Marsteller, Ph.D., M.P.P.

Associate Professor - Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Dr. Marsteller has been involved in health services research since 1993 and specializes in organizational behavior and theory. Read Bio

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Ernest Moy, M.D., M.P.H.

Executive Director - Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Health Equity

Ernest Moy, M.D., M.P.H., is a medical officer in the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  Read Bio

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    All NCHS/AcademyHealth Data Visualization Challenge applications will be kept confidential and will only be used for the purpose of evaluating applicants. By submitting your application to AcademyHealth for consideration in the Challenge, you acknowledge that AcademyHealth will not return submitted materials to applicants. Challenge winners will be contacted for permission to share their headshot, name, brief bio, and winning submission on the AcademyHealth website.