- IMI2 – Calls 22 and 23: updated topics available and webinar registration open
- IMI announces COVID projects, boosts funding pot to EUR 72 million
- An open letter in response to the GHA/CEO report on IMI
- IMI’s Pierre Meulien: When data is FAIR, citizens ultimately reap the benefit
IMI2 – Calls 22 and 23: updated topics available and webinar registration open
IMI has published updated versions of the draft texts of the topics that are slated for inclusion in IMI’s next Calls for proposals, IMI2 – Calls 22 and 23, which are scheduled for launch on 23 June 2020. In addition, registration is now open for the webinars on the Calls; these will run from 15 to 30 June and registration is free but obligatory.
IMI2 – Call 22 is a single-stage Call for proposals designed to support research activities that will build on, and add value to, results from certain ongoing IMI2 projects.
IMI2 – Call 23 is a standard, two-stage Call for proposals with the following topics:
- Returning clinical trial data to study participants within a GDPR compliant and approved framework
- Modelling the impact of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines on the reduction of antimicrobial resistance
This topic is part of IMI’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Accelerator programme.
- A platform for accelerating biomarker discovery and validation to support therapeutics development for neurodegenerative diseases
- Optimal treatment for patients with solid tumours in Europe through artificial intelligence
- Shortening the path to rare disease diagnosis by using new born genetic screening and digital technologies
- Behavioural model of factors affecting patient adherence
The draft topics have been sent to the Governing Board for approval. The final versions of the topic texts, as well as details of how to apply, will be published at Call launch.
Find out more
- Sign up for the webinars
- Download the updated draft texts from the IMI Future Topics page
- Find out about the IMI Call process, including how topics are generated
IMI announces COVID projects, boosts funding pot to EUR 72 million
IMI has provisionally selected 8 projects for funding from its fast-track Call for proposals on coronavirus diagnostics and treatments. In addition, it has boosted the IMI funding pot from EUR 45 million to EUR 72 million. On top of this, EFPIA companies, IMI Associated Partners and other organisations will contribute over EUR 45 million to the projects.
In total, IMI received 144 proposals in response to the Call. Due to the large number of high quality proposals, IMI decided to increase the IMI funding allocated to this Call.
Of the eight projects, five focus on diagnostics and three on treatments. The diagnostics projects hope to develop devices that can be used anywhere (including a doctor’s surgery or patient’s home) and will deliver results fast (ranging from 14 to 40 minutes). While the treatment projects focus primarily on the current COVID-19 outbreak, they also include efforts to prepare for future coronavirus outbreaks. Summaries of the projects can be found in the IMI press release.
Pierre Meulien, IMI Executive Director commented: ‘The success of IMI’s Call for proposals shows that as a public-private partnership, we are well placed to rapidly mobilise top people from diverse organisations to tackle emerging threats to public health. I am confident that these new projects will make valuable contributions to the wider global effort to tackle the current and future outbreaks.’
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: 'We need to bring together the expertise and resources of the public and the private sector in order to defeat this pandemic and prepare for any future outbreaks. With this funding from Horizon 2020 and our industry and other partners, we are speeding up the development of coronavirus diagnostics and treatments, essential tools that we need to tackle the global emergency.'
Find out more
- Read IMI’s press release and factsheet
- Watch a video of IMI Executive Director Pierre Meulien talking about the projects
- Read the press release from the European Commission
An open letter in response to the GHA/CEO report on IMI
In 25 May, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and Global Health Advocates (GHA) published a lengthy report criticising a number of aspects of IMI. In a public response to the report, IMI responds to the criticisms raised.
‘At IMI we are always open to justified, balanced, and constructive criticism,’ the open letter reads, noting that the report does raise some valid issues, such as the relatively low levels of participation among SMEs and partners in the EU-13 countries, or the need to open up IMI’s advisory bodies to a wider spectrum of stakeholders.
‘However, overall we are disappointed that the authors have missed the opportunity to contribute to a constructive debate on IMI and health PPPs,’ the letter states. ‘We regret the fact that the report targets isolated challenges that IMI has faced and turns them into generalities in order to dismantle the integrity of the programme.’
The letter addresses three of the most serious allegations raised by the report:
- Is IMI doing enough on coronaviruses and emergency preparedness?
- Should IMI focus on HIV / AIDS?
- IMI’s Ebola projects: too little, too late?
‘We are disappointed the report is not more rigorous and balanced in its assessment of IMI, especially as a number of the criticisms were explained thoroughly in writing and in a 2 hour long interview between the authors and the Executive Director of IMI several months ago,’ the letter concludes. ‘We would welcome further dialogue with the authors on any points made here or elsewhere for clarification purposes.’
Find out more
- Read the open letter in full
IMI’s Pierre Meulien: When data is FAIR, citizens ultimately reap the benefit
Big data could drive massive improvements in European health systems, but only if we can agree on a set of rules for the use, reuse and management, says IMI Executive Director Pierre Meulien in an opinion piece on the IMI website. A number of IMI projects are addressing this by working to make data ‘FAIR’, i.e. findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. IMI’s EMIF project was one of the pioneers, resulting in a platform that is helping to defragment patient-level data. A concrete example of how the project has made data ‘findable’ is a freely accessible data catalogue, listing data on Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases and vaccine safety. The project has created tools to efficiently access and use that data by putting it in an ‘interoperable’ common format.
More recently, IMI’s Big Data for Better Outcomes projects have applied these principles to blood cancers (HARMONY), cardiovascular disease (BigData@Heart), ROADMAP (Alzheimer’s disease) and prostate cancer (PIONEER). For its part, the EHDEN project aims to make the data from 100 million European citizens available for research, while fully respecting patient privacy, while FAIRplus is helping IMI projects and others to ‘FAIRify’ their data. Ultimately, the project hopes to change the culture of data management in the life sciences sector.
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Meet the IMI projects already helping to fight COVID-19
A number of IMI’s projects are making valuable contributions to the global effort to tackle COVID-19. The contributions include knowledge, tools and expertise, and while some come from projects in the infectious disease field, projects working in other areas, such as data management and Alzheimer’s disease, are also stepping up to the plate.
One of the most prominent projects here is ZAPI, which brings together some of the world’s top virologists with the goal of delivering a platform and technologies to facilitate a rapid response to disease outbreaks. One of the diseases chosen by ZAPI as a case study is MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), which, like COVID-19, is caused by a coronavirus. Many of ZAPI’s results and outputs are proving valuable in the fight to tackle COVID-19.
Other projects contributing actively to COVID-19 research are: COMBACTE (providing access to a clinical trial network specialised in infectious disease studies); EHDEN (harmonising clinical data to facilitate reuse and advance research) and HARMONY (creating a COVID-19 data initiative). Elsewhere, tools developed through the AETIONOMY and PHAGO projects have been adapted for use in a new COVID-19 knowledge space.
In its open access guidelines for projects working on COVID-19, the European Commission flags up the eTRIKS standards starter pack and the DO>IT informed consent forms for clinical research as useful resource. Finally, the c4c project has compiled a set of resources on COVID-19 for children and families.
Find out more
- Read the full news article
The story so FAIR
Making data FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) could supercharge medicine development. IMI’s FAIRplus project is putting the principles into practice. One of its main goals is to ‘FAIRify’ data from at least 20 IMI projects, as well as internal datasets from EFPIA companies. It has already selected or identified datasets from 13 projects.
The project has also issued the first version of the FAIR Cookbook, an open-source collection of instructions (or ‘recipes’) for making life science data FAIR. The Cookbook shows users how to FAIRify datasets and put the FAIR principles into practice, and teaches users about levels and indicators of FAIRness; and the technologies and tools available to assess and improve FAIRness. The FAIR Cookbook is open source and anyone is invited to contribute.
Finally, the project has launched a programme in FAIR data management that will start in April 2021. Lasting 8 months, the FAIRplus Fellowship Programme will guide participants through a series of modules combining online learning, 'training on the job' and short face-to-face meetings. After completing the programme, people will have the confidence to lead, advise and initiate FAIR data processes in their own companies and organisations. Most fellows will be selected from among the FAIRplus partner organisations, but some spaces are reserved for applicants from outside the project. Although registration is not yet open, people can register their interest in the programme via an online form.
Find out more
- Read the full news article
- Sign up to receive information on registration for the FAIRplus Fellowship Programme
From a few months to a few clicks: FAIRified datasets can fast-track drug development
Voices calling for wider access to, and reuse of, data from health and biomedical research are getting louder. Findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability (aka FAIR) are crucial to allow analyses to be carried out on large-scale datasets in the drug development process. Recognising this, research gatekeepers, including the EU funding bodies, now mandate high quality data management for all projects.
OpenPHACTS, an early IMI project, was one of the ‘thought incubators’ cited in the drafting of the original FAIR data manifesto, with its OpenPHACTS Discovery Platform cited as an example of a system in which FAIR principles were already being implemented. The online platform links publicly available drug discovery databases to give researchers a one-stop-shop where they can quickly find the data they needed to test their scientific hypotheses. The platform was very innovative - one interface and data integration to allow for very complex (and time consuming) searches all in one spot.
While the key strength of the platform is to make publicly available datasets available through a single, simple query, the pharmaceutical company partners in the project all had confidential data they wanted to integrate for their own use. OpenPHACTS therefore built infrastructure to allow for this, while guaranteeing the confidentiality of the company data. This functionality led to the founding of Phenaris, a spin-out company that offers data, models, and decision support in all aspects of in silico toxicology.
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More - and better - patient data, whatever the disease
The generic architecture of the RADAR-CNS project’s RADAR-base forms a reusable, flexible IT platform that allows for the remote monitoring of different diseases and conditions using a large variety of technologies. The project is testing how practical and useful smartphones and wearables can be to continuously monitor the symptoms of people with major depression, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. While the team singled out these conditions to test the value of this kind of remote assessment, ultimately, they want to leave behind a data collection platform that is flexible enough that it can be used for other kinds of diseases, conditions and scenarios. New wearables for physiological monitoring are appearing on the market all the time, so the intention is to create a platform architecture that is generic and flexible enough to incorporate any new technology.
'The idea was to build a piece of software that would enable data collection remotely from a variety of sources: sensors, questionnaires and digital tests, from people going about their day-to-day lives,' explains Amos Folarin from King’s College London.
The project is working on extending RADAR-base's functionality to incorporate new means of passive and active remote measurement while supporting a growing open-source community of code contributors and new studies adopting RADAR-Base. They’re also collecting information from patients, clinicians and regulators about barriers to its adoption in both research and clinical domains. The data generated by the RADAR-base platform adhere to principles of clearly documented and structured data. These therefore enable projects using RADAR-base to comply with the FAIR (‘findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable’) principles.
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