- IMI’s 8th Call scheduled for launch in December
- Top tips for finding project partners
- IMI European Parliament event highlights benefits of PPPs
- Independent Observers positive on 5th Call Stage 2 evaluation
- New IMI brochure released
- Financial workshops help project participants with rules
- CDISC workshop puts standards in the spotlight
- IMI on air
- News from the projects
- IMI presentations at forthcoming conferences
IMI’s 8th Call scheduled for launch in December
- Antimicrobial resistance programme ND4BB (‘New Drugs for Bad Bugs’):
- Topic 1C: Innovative Trial Design & Clinical Development (work package 6 of Topic 1)
- Topic 3: Discovery and development of new drugs combating Gram – negative infections
- Developing an aetiology-based taxonomy of human disease
- European induced pluripotent stem cell bank
Registration is now open for the 8th Call webinars, which will be held at the following times (all times are Central European Time / Brussels time):
- European induced pluripotent stem cell bank – Thursday 6 December, 13:00 CET - Register
- Antimicrobial resistance topic 1c (trial design) – Tuesday 11 December, 15:00 CET - Register
- Developing an aetiology-based taxonomy of human disease – Wednesday 12 December, 10:30 CET - Register
- Antimicrobial resistance topic 3 (Gram-negative infections) – Monday 17 December, 15:00 CET - Register
All information regarding future IMI Call topics is indicative and subject to change. Final information about IMI’s future Calls will be communicated after approval by the IMI Governing Board.
Top tips for finding project partners
Putting together an Expression of Interest (EoI) involves finding enough partners to ensure that the consortium includes the expertise needed to fulfil the requirements set out in the Call text. One tool that can help in the hunt for potential partners is the IMI Partner Search Tool, which includes keywords for all 8th Call topics. You can also join the IMI LinkedIn group, which has over 700 members. Networking at conferences is another good way to find partners and discuss the EoI face to face. Finally, another tip is to use your own personal and professional networks to hook up with the people who can make your consortium complete.
IMI European Parliament event highlights benefits of PPPs
High-level experts from the European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as representatives of IMI projects and stakeholder groups, discussed the future of health research in Europe in front of a packed room at the European Parliament in Brussels on 13 November. The event, entitled Health Research at a Crossroads – Are Public-Private Partnerships the Way Forward? kicked off with presentations from IMI’s founding members, represented by IMI Governing Board Chair Roch Doliveux of UCB and Ruxandra Draghia-Akli of the European Commission. The presentations were followed by a debate, moderated by Andrew Jack of the Financial Times, on the need for, and role of, public-private partnerships in health research. There was broad agreement among the panellists that IMI enables unique collaboration between public and private partners in an open way that was not possible before. Panellists also discussed IMIs role in tackling knowledge fragmentation, and in creating a new culture of drug research and development. The event was hosted by Amalia Sartori MEP, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.
Independent Observers positive on 5th Call Stage 2 evaluation
The Independent Observers who monitored the evaluation of Stage 2 of IMI’s 5th Call for proposals found that the process was conducted ‘professionally, fairly and according to established procedures’. In their report, they note that recommendations from previous reports have been implemented well, resulting in significant improvements in the evaluation process. As a result, the observers state that they have no ‘specific’ recommendations this time round, just ‘ongoing’ recommendations ‘to maintain the good quality and standard of the process’.
New IMI brochure released
IMI has published a new brochure that includes success stories from IMI projects, as well as testimonials from people involved in IMI’s work. The brochure also includes a full list of IMI projects and details of how projects are set up. The new brochure is available online, and hard copies can be requested from IMI by e-mailing Infodesk[AT]imi.europa.eu.
Financial workshops help project participants with rules
IMI is running a series of dedicated workshops to help its project participants understand and correctly implement IMI’s project management, finance and reporting rules. The first workshops, held on 5 October and 19 November, attracted over 80 representatives of organisations working on IMI’s projects. The event featured presentations on topics such as financial reporting, eligibility of costs, auditing, amendments, and IMI’s online tool SOFIA, which is increasingly being used to manage both Calls for proposals and project reporting. Further workshops are planned for the coming months; IMI will inform all beneficiaries of planned workshops. Information will also be published on the IMI website.
CDISC workshop puts standards in the spotlight
Representatives of 14 IMI projects were given an overview of the latest in clinical data standards during a workshop on CDISC (Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium). During the workshop, participants were introduced to CDISC’s many standards, which are designed to facilitate the harmonisation of clinical data and streamline research processes from the study plan, through analysis, to reporting. The standards also cover the use of electronic health records. In addition, CDISC has specific standards for certain therapeutic areas, such as pain and tuberculosis. Feedback indicated that the participants found the course useful and many are keen to have additional training on both the basic ‘foundational’ standards and the therapeutic area standards. Thanks to IMI’s Memorandum of Understanding with CDISC, IMI project teams can benefit from CDISC’s expertise and assistance in the development of new standards. A further course is planned for spring 2013. If you would like to be informed of future courses, e-mail your contact details to Infodesk[AT]imi.europa.eu.
IMI on air
IMI Executive Director Michel Goldman has been interviewed twice by German radio broadcasters recently. In an episode of Deutsche Welle’s English-language science programme Spectrum, he discussed the role of public-private partnerships in pre-competitive research in the pharmaceutical sector. The second interview, with Deutschlandradio, contributed to a programme (in German) on antimicrobial resistance. During the interview, Professor Goldman presented IMI’s antimicrobial resistance programme.
News from the projects
- Smart SAFE-T strategy spots drug-induced liver injury
IMI project SAFE-T has devised a simple strategy that is able to identify patients with drug-induced liver injury before serious damage has occurred. Writing in the journal PLoS ONE, the project team points out that 1 in 100 hospitalised patients experience liver injury as a result of an adverse drug reaction, but many cases are missed, especially in non-hepatology departments. The SAFE-T scientists used a common indicator of liver damage, namely alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. Using the SAFE-T strategy, all patients with ALT levels three times higher than the top end of the ‘normal’ range were referred to an experienced hepatologist. The SAFE-T strategy was compared to the hospital’s standard strategy, in which non-hepatologists refer suspected cases of drug induced liver injury (DILI) to experts. The results show that the SAFE-T strategy is much more sensitive, picking up 12 times more cases than the standard strategy and detecting cases of DILI while they are still in the earlier stages. ‘These results therefore strongly suggest that the centralized [SAFE-T] method could prevent very severe complications,’ the researchers write.
- IMI-funded scientist wins major neuropsychopharmacology award
Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany and a participant in IMI’s NEWMEDS and EU-AIMS projects has been awarded the prestigious ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award 2012 for his groundbreaking work linking genetic variation associated with risk of mental illness to brain structure and function. The award, handed out at the annual congress of the ECNP (European College of Neuropsychopharmacology), recognises innovative and distinguished research achievements in neuropsychopharmacology and related fields. Dr Meyer-Lindenberg’s work focuses on the genetic and environmental risk factors associated with psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia. ‘Especially our recent work on rare, high-risk genetic variants associated with schizophrenia and autism would not have been possible without the cooperative science funded in IMI,’ Dr Meyer-Lindenberg said.
- PharmaTrain success – 12 universities, 1 degree!
IMI project PharmaTrain has successfully launched the Cooperative European Medicines Development Course (CEMDC), a postgraduate qualification in medicines development. At a ceremony in Budapest, Hungary on 30 October, high-level representatives of 10 universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalising the cooperation, which will allow students to take modules offered jointly by the partner universities. Degrees will be formally awarded by Budapest’s Semmelweis University on behalf of the partner universities. The CEMDC was set up by PharmaTrain to provide a university network that could provide pharmaceutical medicine training in countries where no such education was established. The universities involved in the CEMDC are located in Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Turkey. The initiative therefore gives students from the central and Eastern European and Mediterranean regions the opportunity to benefit from the very best teaching offered jointly by all participating universities. The university network concept was developed because in small countries and countries with small pharmaceutical industries, only a network concept can guarantee long-lasting sustainability of the programme. The course will start in April 2013. ‘This is a quite unique cooperation which could only be organised within the IMI programme and with the active support of the PharmaTrain cooperation,’ commented CEMDC Study Director Sandor Kerpel-Fronius of Semmelweis University.
- IMI diabetes projects sign Memorandum of Understanding
IMI currently has three projects working on diabetes – DIRECT, SUMMIT, and IMIDIA – which have a combined budget of just over €100 million. The projects tackle diabetes in different ways. For example, IMIDIA focuses on studying the pancreatic beta cells which are responsible for producing insulin; it aims to use this knowledge develop treatments that can slow down the progress of diabetes. Meanwhile, SUMMIT’s work addresses the urgent need for new treatments to tackle the complications associated with diabetes, such as eye, kidney, and blood vessel problems. Finally, DIRECT takes a personalised medicine approach to diabetes, as it works to identify different varieties of diabetes and effective treatments to tackle them. The projects already work together on an informal basis (as evidenced by their new joint leaflet produced with the support of the IMI Executive Office). However, IMIDIA and SUMMIT have now taken their collaboration to a new level with the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU covers the handling of intellectual property, the transfer of knowledge and materials, and confidentiality. The projects believe that the MoU could serve as a template for collaboration between other IMI projects in the future.
- eTOX explains ontologies
One of the goals of IMI project eTOX is to predict safety issues in silico (i.e. using computer models) by learning from companies’ existing preclinical data. The extraction of reports containing this data is now well advanced, raising the issue of standardisation. The question facing eTOX is: how can the project make sure that everybody uses the same term to describe the same thing? The answer lies in ontologies: the description of preferred terms and synonyms to be used in various places, as well as the relationships between the terms. Within eTOX, many ontologies are employed. Some of these are already available in the public domain in order to increase interoperability, while others have been created by the consortium because nothing was available yet. These new ontologies will be released into the public domain and discussed with interested partners (e.g. CDISC and IMI project OpenPhacts). The consortium will also release its annotation software, the first truly collaborative interface dedicated to crowd sourcing of ontology annotations.
- NEWMEDS presents results at major psychiatric genetics congress
IMI’s NEWMEDS project presented some of its findings at a symposium held during the 20th World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics (WCPG) in Hamburg, Germany in October. The symposium, entitled Identification and functional consequence of genetic variants conferring risk of psychiatric disease – outcome of NEWMEDS collaboration, featured presentations of NEWMEDS work on how Copy Number Variations (CNVs, in which sections of DNA are present in more or fewer copies than usual) affect intellectual disability, autism, and schizophrenia. The presentations also discussed how NEWMEDS is attempting to model these conditions in mice. The hope is that these studies will shed light on the link between CNVs and the brain and deliver novel and more relevant animal models for research into psychiatric disorders.
- Check out the IMI Education & Training projects’ video
Four of IMI’s Education & Training projects have put together a short video on their activities. In the six-minute clip, the coordinators of the EMTRAIN, SafeSciMET, Eu2P, and PharmaTrain projects present their courses and the benefits they offer for students and course providers alike. The film also features a presentation by IMI Executive Director Michel Goldman.
- IMI brain projects in the spotlight in New Orleans
Autism project EU-AIMS held an IMI networking event at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) in New Orleans, US, on 16 October. The SfN annual meeting is the world’s biggest gathering of neuroscientists, attracting 30 000 attendees from around the world. The networking event was therefore an excellent opportunity for EU-AIMS to promote its work to the neuroscience community.