Pierre Meulien named as new IMI Executive Director
IMI has named Pierre Meulien as its new Executive Director. He will take up his duties at IMI in September and he brings with him a wealth of experience working in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and research-funding organisations on both sides of the Atlantic. Pierre Meulien is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of Genome Canada, a not-for-profit organisation that connects ideas and people across public and private sectors to find new uses for genomics and invests in large-scale science and technology to fuel innovation.
Pierre Meulien said: ‘I am delighted to have been selected to lead the second phase of the Innovative Medicines Initiative. This unique joint venture will deliver health innovations to millions of European citizens and solidify an important industry based in Europe that will be a source of jobs and growth in all of the Member States.’
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: ‘The excellent results coming out of IMI’s projects contribute to improving public health and are stimulating innovation and job creation in Europe. Pierre Meulien's invaluable experience will help IMI deliver on its ambitious objectives.’
EFPIA Director General Richard Bergström added: ‘I am delighted that Pierre will join IMI. He has the perfect background, having worked in the area where public sector and private sector interests overlap, all in the interest of advancing the latest science for the benefit of patients.’
- Read the press release
Coming soon - IMI 2 - Call 5
IMI 2 Call 5 is scheduled for launch shortly, with six topics covering neurological and metabolic disease as well as patient engagement. The indicative topics are:
- patient perspective elicitation on benefits and risks of medicinal products through product lifecycle
- diabetic kidney disease biomarkers
- inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease
- the role of amyloid biomarkers in the diagnosis and management of patients with pre-dementia and dementia
- patient engagement for earlier identification of Alzheimer’s disease
- apolipoprotein E biology in Alzheimer’s disease targets
Full details can be found in the indicative topic text available on IMI’s ‘Future Topics’ page.
All information regarding future IMI Call topics is indicative and subject to change. Final information about future IMI Calls will be communicated after approval by the IMI Governing Board.
Find partners for your applicant consortium
If you are looking for partners there are several possibilities.
- Use your existing networks to find possible partners.
- The IMI Partner Search Tool has been updated with the topics and keywords for the forthcoming Call. You can search for potential partners after you have created your profile.
- Register with CORDIS (the European Commission's partner search portal)
- Post your search criteria on social networking sites like IMI’s LinkedIn group and the Horizon 2020 LinkedIn group
- Contact your IMI State Representatives Group (SRG) member or National Contact Point for information on professional networking in your area.
- Fit for Health 2.0 offers an EU Partner Match portal and
- The German IMI SRG has a dedicated partner search platform for IMI Calls.
Due to potential conflicts of interest, the IMI Programme Office is not able to recommend partners for potential participants in its Calls.
Sign up for the IMI 2 – Call 5 webinars
From 1 to 14 July 2015 IMI will hold webinars on each topic of the IMI2 5th Call for proposals, as well as on IMI rules and procedures.
All webinars on the Call topics will feature an introduction to the Call by representatives of the IMI Programme Office, as well as a presentation by the EFPIA topic coordinator and time for questions and answers. The webinars therefore represent an excellent opportunity to learn more about the topics, interact directly with the topic coordinators, and get in touch with potential project partners.
The webinar on IMI’s rules and procedures will also include presentations of IMI's intellectual property policy and tips on the preparation of proposal submissions.
Registration for the webinars is free but obligatory via the webinar web page.
IMI Stakeholder Forum 2015: yesterday, today and tomorrow
On 15 June the IMI Stakeholder Forum brought together over 300 IMI stakeholders to discuss the evolution of IMI through the years and future areas where the programme could focus.
Opening with a keynote by Anders Kristensen, a young diabetes patient, and with closing remarks by Anders Olauson, President of the European Patient Forum, this year’s Stakeholder Forum put patients right at the heart of IMI’s annual stakeholder debate.
In the first session, three early IMI projects provided a view on how the IMI collaboration has changed their research and opened new ways of working across different sectors. In session 2, the European Commission and EFPIA presented an outlook on IMI2 today, and on where they see IMI going next. This session included a panel discussion with key stakeholders.
The last session of the event included parallel tracks focusing on the next big areas of interest for IMI: advanced therapies and better health outcomes through big data, and gathered feedback on how the design of IMI Calls could be optimised.
The Stakeholder Forum also saw the launch of IMI’s first event app. The app was widely downloaded and more than one-third of participants were actively using the app to follow the meeting or find out about the speakers, sessions, IMI staff and IMI projects. The app is still available and continues to be useful for post-meeting networking between registered app users. We welcome feedback about the use of the IMI app; please contact IMI_events@imi.europa.eu if you would like to share your experience.
- Read a summary of the event in text, tweets, pictures and videos via Storify
- View a photo gallery of the event
- Download the presentations
- Videos of all sessions of the IMI Stakeholder Forum are available via the event page
News from the projects
EMIF studies add to evidence on Alzheimer’s risk
Two new papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association add to our understanding of the factors that increase people’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The research was supported in part by IMI’s EMIF project. The first study assessed the prevalence of amyloid plaques (clumps of protein commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease) in both healthy people and people with varying levels of cognitive impairment. The second study reviewed the prevalence of amyloid plaques on positron emission tomography (PET) imaging scans of people with difference kinds of dementia. The findings highlight the impact of the APOE gene on the formation of amyloid plaques and on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. They also underline the fact that amyloid plaques may start appearing 20-30 years before the onset of dementia symptoms (although not everyone with amyloid plaques will develop dementia, and not everyone with dementia has amyloid plaques). An accompanying editorial explains the importance of the new research. ‘These reports are the largest and most detailed to date and are critical assessments that help define the role of amyloid in the causation of cognitive impairment and dementia.’ Looking to the future, questions raised by the research include the role of other genetic factors (besides APOE) in amyloid formation, and the links between genetic risks and lifestyle factors such as smoking and high blood pressure.
IMI projects working together – eTRIKS gives U-BIOPRED boost
Severe asthma is often difficult to manage and many patients are unresponsive to treatment. IMI’s U-BIOPRED project aims to make severe asthma diagnosis and treatment more personalised by creating ‘handprints’ that identify sub-phenotypes of asthma. The eTRIKS project has been working with U-BIOPRED by deploying analytical techniques to help them in their research, in order to create an environment where the diverse ‘big data’ sets can be compared and analysed. “eTRIKS provides gel without which we could be floating in pools of excess data with no direction,” said Professor Ian Adcock at Imperial College. “U-BIOPRED is using these data to produce at least 60 publications to advance the understanding of the complex causes and subtypes of severe asthma. The eTRIKS/tranSMART platform is a key ingredient to making this happen.”
- Read the press release
QuIC-ConCePT standardises biomarkers for early-stage cancer drug development
QuIC-ConCePT is working on validating imaging biomarkers for early-stage cancer drug development. In the past, such biomarkers were widely used by academia in single centre studies, but were difficult for industry to use because results from different imaging centres were not comparable. Reproducibility is critically dependent on how imaging equipment performs for each different hospital. QuIC-ConCePT currently has 15 separate clinical trials either underway or completed to reach technical assay validation in patients with lung and liver malignancies, mainly coordinated through consortium partner EORTC and in collaboration with US colleagues at the Quantitative Imaging Biomarker Alliance of the Radiological Society of North America (US QIBA). This ground-breaking work includes repeatability, reproducibility, and advanced image analysis to overcome the challenges of scanning living, breathing patients. QuIC-ConCePT is also working towards a unique standardisation project to ensure that the enabling work in animal models is completely valid. The scope of this work is far beyond the capabilities of even the largest cancer centre and the IMI model has ensured that the focus has remained on the needs of drug development.
Open PHACTS releases latest version of programming interface
IMI’s Open PHACTS project has now released the latest version of its application programming interface (API). This marks the completion of a large number of improvements and additions to the Open PHACTS API, such as a filter for search fields linked to tissues and a major update of the identity mapping service to allow a greater diversity of possible URLs for retrieving results. In addition, improvements to the API’s SPARQL protocols allow more intelligent and precise search results. Important new data has been added in this version using adverse events from the Food and Drugs Agency Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) and interacting drugs from DrugBank. Furthermore, the Open PHACTS team has been updating the pharmacological data available with the latest ChEMBL release (ChEMBL 20). Along with some bug fixes and quality and consistency assurance, this makes version 1.5 the most versatile version of the Open PHACTS API since launch.
DDmore’s PharmML, a flexible format for model exchange
PharmML stands for Pharmacometrics Markup Language, and the new exchange format for encoding of models in pharmacometrics is spotlighted in a new article in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics: Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology (CPT:PSP). PharmML was developed by IMI’s DDMoRe project and is a key component of DDMoRe’s platform. PharmML-encoded models can be deposited in the DDMoRe repository, helping researchers collaborate on models to improve the design of cost effective, reliable clinical trials of new and repurposed drugs. Pharmacometric modelling is essential for designing cost-effective, reliable clinical trials to test new or repurposed medicines, but until now it has been difficult for researchers to pool their knowledge and develop these models collaboratively between organisations. PharmML, developed at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), is helping researchers collaborate on computational models of disease and drug action.
- Read the press release
- Learn more in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics: Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology (CPT:PSP)
COMBACTE launches ASPIRE study
IMI’s COMBACTE project has started work on the ASPIRE-ICU study at a site in the Netherlands. ASPIRE is an epidemiological study of healthcare-associated infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa to determine the incidence of infection in different patient populations and the association between factors such as co-morbidities, colonisation status, relevant biomarkers and infection risk. Getting the study off the ground required intense collaboration between the COMBACTE partners to obtain ethical approval and to ensure the research team had the necessary training in protocols, procedures and particularly importantly, in specimen sample management. The study has two stages. In stage 1, information from existing intensive care unit (ICU) and surgical surveillance databases will be collected and analysed. In stage 2, ICU and surgical epidemiologic data will be collected from ongoing surveillance which includes collecting bacterial isolates and serum samples for in-depth microbiological and immunological studies. There are plans to launch the study in Spain next and the ASPIRE-ICU study team is working closely together with the regional coordinator there to obtain the required approvals in order to start in late summer 2015. Overall, the ASPIRE-ICU will be initiated in about 30 sites across between 10 to 12 countries. COMBACTE is working to improve clinical trials for antibiotics and is one of the seven projects included in IMI’s New Drugs for Bad Bugs (ND4BB) platform.
ABIRISK issues recommendations for communicating on biopharmaceuticals
IMI’s ABIRISK project has published a set of proposalsfor setting up standards in the field of biopharmaceuticals. Biopharmaceuticals are medicines based on biological molecules such as proteins and antibodies. In some patients, these medicines trigger ‘immunogenicity’, an immune response that may decrease the effectiveness of the drug or cause severe side effects. ABIRISK is working to shed new light on the causes of these reactions. However, writing in the journal Clinical and Experimental Immunology, the project partners explain that efforts to collaborate across sectors and disciplines are hampered by a ‘lack of agreement on concepts, practices, and standardised terms and definitions related to immunogenicity’. To overcome these challenges and to advance research in this important area, the project has developed and agreed to use a set of common terms and definitions for describing the immunogenicity of biopharmaceuticals. ‘This paper is a major contribution to the field of immunogenicity to set up standards in terms of definitions and common language,’ said ABRISK project leaders Marc Pallardy of Université Paris-Sud and Dan Sikkema of GlaxoSmithKline. ‘Indeed, the lack of common terms across this field hampers the possibility to compare results and introduces confusing factors.’ The terms and definitions are set out in the paper and on the ABIRISK website. The project is keen to receive feedback on its proposals so that it can refine them further.
SafeSciMET Mutagenesis and Carcinogenesis Course: register now!
Registration is open for the third course on Mutagenesis and Carcinogenesis organised by IMI Education and Training project SafeSciMET. The course will be held in Vienna, Austria from 28 September to 2 October 2015 and the deadline for applications is 29 August. Besides heredity and environmental factors, chemical exposure is responsible for approximately two thirds of all cancers. The development of new chemicals holds the potential risk of mutagenic and /or carcinogenic effects on humans. Minimising these risks during drug development requires experimental approaches and expert knowledge whose basic principles will be delivered in this course. Special emphasis will be given to the biology of cancer, the identification of mutagens and carcinogens and their modes of action on the cellular, biochemical and molecular level. In silico prediction as well as animal systems and tissue culture assays for carcinogenicity testing will be presented. Furthermore, the importance of estimating dose-dependent probabilities of mutagenic/carcinogenic effects and risk-benefit evaluation will be discussed. In case studies from industry, participants will review and assess safety data for mutagenic and carcinogenic compounds. The teachers include academia and industry experts and the interactive programme guarantees a solid understanding of the latest developments in mutagenesis and carcinogenesis.
European Lead Factory successfully creates ‘drug-like’ hit compounds
Just a few months after it was included in drug target screening programmes, one of the first compounds synthesised within the European Lead Factory was identified as a ‘drug-like’ hit. The compounds were synthesised by the Public Chemistry Consortium, based on library proposals from academic groups and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. The EU Lead Factory carefully selects library proposals for novelty, drug-like properties, diversity and synthetic tractability. The hit compound was among the first compounds to be synthesised within the EU Lead Factory, and was added to the Joint European Compound Library (JECL) along with 28 000 other compounds in January 2015. In addition to the hit compound, another 130 compounds have already been identified as ‘preliminary hits’ over multiple drug-target screening programmes in only 5 months, highlighting the potential of the EU Lead Factory compounds. Together with 326 000 high-quality compounds that were already contributed by 7 large pharmaceutical companies, the JECL now holds over 350 000 compounds. The collection is available for screening against novel drug targets and will continue to grow. Want to learn more about the EU Lead Factory? Visit www.europeanleadfactory.eu or meet them in person at MipTec 2015 in Basel, Switzerland in September 2015 where the team will be at stand D25 in the exhibition.