- IMI improves funding rules and simplifies procedures
- IMI 5th call – preliminary outline of European lead factory topic released
- European Commission releases Horizon 2020
- Independent Observers: IMI 4th Call, Stage 1 evaluations conducted ‘independently and fairly’
- IMI on major international TV channel
- Michel Goldman discusses IMI at leading pharma conference
- News from the projects
- IMI presentations at forthcoming conferences
- IMI Executive Office closed during the holiday period
IMI improves funding rules and simplifies procedures
IMI is pleased to announce details of significant changes to its rules that will both improve financial conditions and simplify management requirements for project participants. The new rules are set out in the newly-released model Grant Agreement and in the Financial Guidelines (which will be available early next year). From now on, participants in new and ongoing projects will be able to claim actual indirect (i.e. overhead) costs; previously only a flat rate of 20% of the direct eligible costs was possible. Reporting and accounting procedures have also been simplified, allowing projects to cut administration costs and save more for scientific activities. For example, partners now have the option of declaring average personnel costs. In addition, IMI is currently working on simplifying its application procedures and the scientific reporting procedures for ongoing projects.
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IMI 5th call – preliminary outline of European lead factory topic released
An outline of the indicative IMI Call topic ‘European lead factory: Joint European compound library and screening centre’ is now available on the IMI website. In their hunt for new drugs, scientists screen large numbers of molecules in compound libraries; pharmaceutical companies currently have vast compound libraries, but these cannot be accessed by external groups. Under the new project, the compound libraries of both companies and public organisations would be pooled to create a large facility that could be accessed by all partners in the project. In addition, the project will develop novel tools to improve screening procedures and pick up interesting molecules that might otherwise be missed.
Note that all information regarding the 5th Call is indicative, pending approval by the Governing Board.
European Commission releases Horizon 2020
The European Commission has released its proposals for its next research and innovation framework programme. Dubbed Horizon 2020, the €80 billion programme will run from 2014 to 2020 and has three key aims: promoting scientific excellence in Europe, boosting innovation, and addressing major societal challenges (including health, demographic change and well-being). According to the proposal, existing public-private partnerships (PPPs) like IMI may continue to receive support if they address Horizon 2020 objectives, meet Horizon 2020 criteria and have made significant progress under the current framework programme (FP7). The proposals will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the EU Member States. Meanwhile the European Commission presented the proposals in more detail to IMIs Scientific Committee. EFPIA also presented its ideas for the future.
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Independent Observers: IMI 4th Call, Stage 1 evaluations conducted ‘independently and fairly’
The evaluations of Expressions of Interest (EoIs) submitted in response to IMI’s 4th Call for Proposals were carried out ‘professionally and fairly’, according to the two independent observers who monitored the process. In their report, the observers note that they were ‘struck by the dedication of all participants to ensuring an impartial and thoughtful evaluation of all EoIs’. The observers were very positive about the telephone hearings with representatives of the four highest-scoring consortia, which was a new addition to the evaluation process. ‘We strongly recommend the continuation and further evolution of this practice,’ they write. The report also contains some recommendations to help improve the evaluation process further. In total, IMI received 86 EoIs in response to the 4th Call. The final decision of the IMI Governing Board will be formally communicated to applicants in January.
IMI on major international TV channel
Michel Goldman, IMI’s Executive Director, recently presented IMI’s activities and achievements in Bar de l’Europe, a programme made by major international French-speaking channel TV5Monde. During the clip, Professor Goldman explains that innovative medicines are those that make a real difference to and prolong patients’ lives and sets out how IMI is helping to promote the development of innovative medicines.
Michel Goldman discusses IMI at leading pharma conference
IMI Executive Director Michel Goldman took part in a panel discussion on R&D: New Business and Financing Models for Innovation at the recent FT Global Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology Conference in London, UK. The session can be viewed online. UK Prime Minister David Cameron also addressed the conference. In his speech, he highlighted his government’s plans to open up access to patient records for researchers and underscored his support for initiatives that bring together business and academia. ‘I believe that in place of the old “big pharma” model, a new model is emerging. It’s about more collaboration, more outsourcing, more early trials,’ he said. ‘You can call it translational medicine, you can call it experimental medicine; the fact is we see it, we recognise it, and we are determined to support it, to invest in innovation, to stoke early-stage investment, and to tear down the barriers to development.’
News from the projects
- SafeSciMET courses – sign up now!
If your new year’s resolution is to boost your career by following some courses, then why not check out the courses run by IMI project SafeSciMET, the new pan-European programme on safety sciences. Applications are currently open for courses on ‘safety pharmacology’; ‘non-clinical safety assessment: strategies, ethics and protocols’; ‘biomolecular analysis: from method development to clinic’; and ‘predictive cell culture systems’, among others. SafeSciMET’s modular structure allows scientists to choose the courses that match their needs. Attending the full programme leads to an Advanced Master’s degree in Safety Sciences. Feedback from the first round of courses held in 2011 has been very positive; with students commenting: ‘The course has exceeded my expectations’, and ‘I was very pleased with the structure, the content, and the quality of the presentations and the preparedness of the presenters’.
- IMIDIA team reveals gene that affects insulin secretion
Scientists from the IMI project IMIDIA have identified a gene that disrupts insulin secretion in individuals with a rare form of type 2 diabetes called maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY). The gene produces a protein called PASK (PAS kinase). Normally, when blood sugar levels are low, insulin production is close to zero. However, in people with the mutated form of PASK, insulin production at low blood sugar levels is rather high. The researchers believe that this may render other tissues in the body less responsive to insulin, causing problems when blood sugar levels rise. The findings, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, represent the first demonstration in humans that the PASK protein plays a key role in insulin secretion. The discovery may have implications for diabetes treatment. ‘PASK is an interesting potential drug target since the structure of the protein lends itself to the binding of small molecules,’ explains Guy Rutter of Imperial College London in the UK, who lead the research. ‘The development of such compounds may provide new regulators of insulin secretion which may be of value in the clinic in years to come.’
IMI presentations at forthcoming conferences
Below is an overview of some forthcoming events where staff from the IMI Executive Office will present IMI’s work and achievements.
- EORTC celebrating 50 years of progress against cancer
Brussels, Belgium, 6 March 2012
IMI Executive Director Michel Goldman will give a presentation on IMI and cancer research during a session on ‘integrating biology in novel clinical trials’
Event website: http://www.eortc.org/50anniversary/
- Session on IMI at DIA EuroMeeting
Copenhagen, Denmark, 27 March 2012
The European meeting of the Drug Information Association (DIA) will feature a session entitled ‘IMI - does the European public-private partnership programme stimulate innovation?’ The session will be chaired by Executive Director Michel Goldman and feature high level speakers from the European Commission and EFPIA as well as scientists from IMI projects. Michel Goldman will also chair another session on ‘Translational medicine: a global perspective’.
Event website: http://www.diahome.org/DIAHome/FlagshipMeetings/home.aspx?meetingid=25205
IMI Executive Office closed during the holiday period
The IMI Executive Office will be closed from 23 December 2011 to 2 January 2012 inclusive. During this period, urgent matters can be directly addressed to michel.goldman_AT_imi.europa.eu.
IMI wishes you all a merry Christmas and all the best for 2012.