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Big data, medicines safety and respiratory disease focus of €93 million IMI Call for proposals


As the name suggests, IMI’s Big Data for Better Outcomes programme aims to facilitate the use of diverse data sources to deliver results that reflect health outcomes of treatments that are meaningful for patients, clinicians, regulators, researchers, healthcare decision-makers, and others. The first big data topic focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, which is on the rise and where new, effective treatments are urgently needed. Here the goal is to evaluate existing and develop new outcome measures, identify sources of outcomes data, and pave the way for a framework to gather new data so that it can be ultimately used to improve Alzheimer’s care and prevention.

The second big data topic is on blood cancers (e.g. leukaemia), which account for one third of cancer cases in children and one third of cancer deaths. As many blood cancers are rare, a lack of data on outcomes represents a challenge for clinicians, researchers, and decision-makers alike. This topic will define standard sets of outcomes for blood cancers and develop a data sharing platform so that data from different studies can be pooled and analysed with ease.

The two other topics in the Call focus on respiratory disease and medicines safety. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is not well known outside medical circles, yet most people have probably suffered from it in childhood, as it is the most common cause of severe respiratory illness in infants and children worldwide. While most people’s symptoms are mild, it can result in pneumonia and 3.4 million cases annually require hospitalisation. This topic addresses the need for a better understanding of RSV and its clinical, economic and social impacts. As such it will deliver new insights into RSV and contribute to efforts to prevent and treat it.

When developing a new medicine, determining whether or not it will be safe for patients to take remains a challenge. The topic on medicines safety will draw on the latest developments in medicines research and computer science to develop new models to assess the toxicity of medicines to four major organ systems (the heart, liver, kidney, and the gastrointestinal-immune system).

Pierre Meulien, IMI’s new Executive Director commented: ‘These topics beautifully demonstrate why IMI is needed. They all represent major challenges in medicines development and healthcare that can only be solved by bringing together the resources and expertise of a diverse range of stakeholders in collaborative projects. The projects that emerge from these topics will also have a very real impact on both medicines research and healthcare delivery.’

Half of the €93 million Call budget comes from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation; this will go to universities, small to mid-sized companies, patient organisations, and other organisations eligible for funding. The other half of the budget will come from the large pharmaceutical companies participating in the Call; they do not receive any funding through IMI, but contribute to projects ‘in kind’, for example with researchers’ time, access to resources, etc.

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Notes to Editors

  • For more information on the Call for proposals, including details of how to apply as well as IMI’s rules and procedures, visit the Call web page
  • Deadline for submitting short proposals: 12 January 2016
  • Webinars on the Call topics and IMI’s rules and procedures will be held in October. For details and to register, visit the webinar page.

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About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, innovative medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. It does this by facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, the pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators.

IMI is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Through the IMI 2 programme, IMI has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2024. Half of this comes from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The other half comes from large companies, mostly from the pharmaceutical sector; these do not receive any EU funding, but contribute to the projects ‘in kind’, for example by donating their researchers’ time or providing access to research facilities or resources.

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