Correlation One Hosts Successful Datathons with Merck

This May, Correlation One hosted two Datathons in partnership with Merck and MSD. The competitions, which garnered over 3,000 applicants across North America, Europe, and India, challenged quantitative professionals to explore and analyze datasets in the health and human sciences industry. The winning teams earned $25,000 in cash prizes and opportunities to network with data science leaders at Merck. 

A Datathon is a data science competition similar to a hackathon. From nearly 3,000 applicants, more than 200 were invited to participate in the competitions, where they were challenged to evaluate substance abuse treatment programs within the United States. The participants then submitted their work to a panel of judges, who evaluated entries based on criteria including the novelty of the submission, depth of research, clarity of communication, technical rigor, real-world applicability, and accuracy of insights. 

Participants received an extensive dataset containing substance abuse treatment discharge information on individuals across the US, along with data from the American Community Survey and state-level data on substance abuse treatment centers. 

For Merck/MSD, the datathons offered an innovative approach to talent branding and candidate engagement. By curating an experience that reflects the challenges their own data scientists encounter on a daily basis, Merck/MSD was able to engage and identify promising talent that may not have been discovered through traditional hiring channels. 

“We want to reach out to the best quantitative minds around the world,” Paula Newberry, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Merck explained. “Merck and MSD Datathons provided an innovative opportunity to interact with these professionals on so many different levels, while providing them an intellectually-driven and immersive experience.” 

A Real World Application 

The Datathon provided the participants a taste of how their data science and coding skills can be applied to produce life-saving health science challenges. The winning teams conducted studies that analyzed leading factors related to successful treatment completion and success rates in under-performing locations. Insights and policy recommendations included the availability of treatment programs, impact of self-help groups, detox services for individuals, and for states to focus on better employment. 

Fikreab Admasu, one of the winners of Merck Competition, describes his experience as enriching: “The contest broke away from the traditional mold of [other data science competitions], where the objective can sometimes narrow down to incessantly fine-tuning models and climbing the leaderboard based on the best scores. In contrast, the Merck Datathon was strikingly analogous to my experience as an analyst and researcher, replete with its unique nuances and challenges.”

William Davies from the 2nd place winning team commented “I was using my coding skills to evaluate substance abuse treatments. It was powerful. It made the work even more meaningful to me, and I was grateful that our data analysis efforts might help provide some solutions for organizations on the front-line of this battle.” 

A Meaningful Approach to Recruitment 

In addition to being an immersive event, the program was an opportunity for data and recruiting leaders at Merck to interact with the participants and see the output of their work – including their technical skills, problem-solving aptitude, and teamwork and Collaboration. 

Malene Haxholdt, Chief Digital, Data & Analytics Officer, SVP, Human Health at Merck, expresses that the Datathon was a unique way to identify talent while simultaneously reinforcing Merck’s brand as a data forward company. She stated that “The Datathon was a great way to experiment with new ways in which Merck/MSD presents ourselves in the job marketplace as a data first/insights driven company.” 

Haxholdt also spoke about the importance of the Datathon in attracting data science talent to the pharmaceutical industry, saying: “I believe passionately that building D&A early talent is a necessity for our company to grow, innovate, continue to build best in class data and analytics solutions and deliver value to patients and HCPs. As data and analytics continue to disrupt and differentiate, the Datathon helped drive awareness of the relevance of data and analytics to patients, and its ability to improve lives.” 

Following the event, participants of the winning teams were immediately invited for interviews for full-time positions at Merck/MSD. 

About Data Science & Analytics at Merck 

Merck’s data and advanced analytics team is at the core of understanding patient needs and improving lives around the world. As a data-driven company, Merck continually develops and provides new ways of communicating, measuring impact, and interacting with our patients through innovative digital channels and technologies. Data connects compelling questions to the right people and research, and connects cutting edge science to the clinical world. 

Interested in data and advanced analytics job opportunities at Merck? Click here to learn more

Correlation One Datathons 

Datathons offer an innovative strategy for recruitment and talent branding. Employers engage students and professionals around intellectually-stimulating data science problems, while simultaneously providing an opportunity for candidates to engage with hiring managers and showcase their skills. Over the past 6 years, Correlation One has hosted over 100 Datathon competitions in over 10 countries. 

Interested in hosting a Datathon with Correlation One? Talk to our team today.

Congratulations to the Merck / MSD Datathon Winners 

Winners of the Merck/ MSD Datathons were awarded $25,000 and exclusive recruiting opportunities with Merck/MSD. Congratulations to this year’s top performers! 



Fikreab A
Wenyi Z 
Zhen L
Anjali J 

Second Place: 

William D
Wenjing D
Hui W
Wenyu Z 

Third Place: 

Patrick C
Kaishu M
Jeff Z 



Yash J
Rutvij K
Basha M
Vishal G 

2nd Place

Tessa I
Jeffrey D R
Mathijs v N 

3rd Place: 

Himanshu J
Piyush J
Yuan X 
Nandini D