New “Open Science Prize” competition seeks applications

open science prize
The NIH has partnered with Wellcome Trust and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to launch a global science competition for innovative products or services that will advance “open science,” a movement to make scientific data more accessible. “Big data” generated by biomedical research is growing rapidly yet researchers’ ability to derive knowledge from that data is hindered by their ability to find, access and use it. The Open Science Prize aims to support prototyping and the development of services to overcome these hurdles and ensure data can be used to advance biomedical research discovery and innovation.

The competition consists of two phases. For the first stage, up to six teams stand to win $80,000 each to develop their ideas into a prototype or to advance an existing early stage prototype. These teams will then enter the second phase of the competition with the prototype judged to have the greatest potential to further open science receiving $230,000. The first phase of the competition is accepting applications through Feb. 29, 2016. The six winning teams will be selected based on the advice of a panel of experts  to receive the prize money to advance their ideas to prototypes, and will be required to submit their prototypes by Dec. 1, 2016. The overall winner is expected to be selected on Feb. 28, 2017.

“Research is a global, data-driven enterprise and our ability to improve health increasingly hinges on our ability to manage and make sense of the enormous amounts of data being produced by scientific research,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “I expect the Open Science Prize to generate innovative ideas to improve data access and establish new international collaborations that will illustrate the transformative power of sharing research data.”

Because “open science” is a global movement, the prize is only open to international collaborative teams, specifically:

  • a team of two or more individuals, where at least one individual is a citizen of, or permanent resident in, the United States (US), and at least one individual is resident in a country other than the US.
  • a group of two of more public or private entities, where at least one entity is incorporated in and maintains a primary place of business in the US, and at least one entity is incorporated in and maintains a primary place of business in a country other than the US.

Learn more about the guidelines/eligibility and register your team here.

NIH’s Michael Lauer launches Open Mike blog

Michael Lauer, M.D.

Michael Lauer, M.D.

The NIH’s new Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Michael Lauer, is carrying on the blogging tradition set by his predecessor, Sally Rockey. In his first post on Oct. 19, Lauer wrote that he plans to use the Open Mike blog to “connect you with the NIH perspective and, even more importantly, to help connect us to yours.” If this first post is any indication, Lauer appears to be committed to the transparency that began with Rockey’s blog, “Rock Talk,” by addressing issues such as accountability and the development of a learning culture at NIH.

“Accountability means deep and sometimes painful conversations about valid metrics, about stories that underlie metrics, about the economics of science, about evidence-based considerations of what kinds of partnerships and strategies are most likely to “turn the curve” – really about applying the scientific method to ourselves at NIH,” wrote Lauer. “And it means that we have to be willing to talk, even in public, about our shortcomings and our ignorance.”

Read more here.

Patient safety innovation awards, applications due Dec. 1

PSMFThe Patient Safety Movement is holding its inaugural Patient Safety Movement Foundation Innovation Competition. PSMF is calling on safety advocates to bring forward their proven innovations that will help the foundation reach their goal of ZERO preventable deaths by 2020. Entries can include a new product or the novel use of an existing technology or process. The goal is to help the winners bring their innovations to scale.

This competition is open and PSMF is interested in receiving a broad and diverse array of entries. Three prizes will be awarded:

1st Prize: $50,000
2nd Prize: $25,000
3rd Prize: $10,000

Application forms can be found here.  Winners will be selected by the Patient Safety Movement Board of Directors. Finalists will be notified in December 2015 and winners will be announced at the 2016 Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit. Good luck!

Deadline for submissions is December 1, 2015.

NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch to visit OHSU Nov. 13

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences, with director Jon Lorsch, Ph.D., at the helm, is breaking new ground on funding and workforce development strategies. Come and hear Lorsch talk about exciting changes taking place at NIGMS as he presents:

Jon Lorsch, Ph.D.

Jon Lorsch, Ph.D.

“Developing a More Productive, Efficient and Sustainable Biomedical Research Enterprise”
Nov. 13th, 2:00-3:00 p.m.
OHSU Hospital, 8th floor Auditorium

Lorsch will share the latest news out of NIGMS and outline the institute’s strategic plan as well as the research behind it. Some of the changes underway are to:

  • Refocus the NIGMS portfolio on investigator-initiated research
  • Implement a new “program-based” funding model (vs. “project-based”)
  • Prioritize first R01 and other new investigator funding
  • Implement the R35 (Maximizing the Investigator’s Research Award, MIRA) mechanism to provide more sustainable funding
  • Improve workforce development strategies

This is a great opportunity to hear from an innovative leader at NIH. Learn more about Lorsch’s vision for NIGMS on his blog, NIGMS Feedback Loop.



Rita Allen Foundation Scholar Award, internal deadline Nov. 16

rita allen logoThe Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Program supports research scientists in the early stages of their careers. Fields of research are cancer, immunology and neuroscience. Individuals chosen will be designated Rita Allen Foundation Scholars and the affiliated institution will receive financial support from the Rita Allen Foundation of up to $110,000 annually, for a period of up to five years.

To be eligible for the Scholars Award, candidates must have completed their training and provided persuasive evidence of distinguished achievement or extraordinary promise in research in one of the relevant fields.

Applicants with committed awards that overlap the first two years of the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Program from the Beckman Young Investigator Program, Kimmel Scholar Award, Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences, and Searle Scholars Program are not eligible.

Note that this opportunity requires internal coordination as OHSU can submit only one application; therefore, limited submission guidelines apply. If you are interested in applying, submit an application via the Competitive Application Portal (CAP) by November 16, 2015. Letter of intent is due December 11, 2015 to the Foundation and final application deadline is January 22, 2016.

Read more about this funding opportunity here.

VentureWell innovation faculty grant applications due Nov. 4

Faculty, teach your students how to move from idea to impact by applying for curricular development grants from VentureWell! OHSU recently became a member of VentureWell (formerly NCIIA), a higher education network that helps launch new ventures of inventors through funding, mentorship, and curriculum development. The network has given roughly $7.5 million in grants to more than 500 student teams who then went on to raise more than $620 million to launch new businesses. More than half of the resulting start-up ventures are still in business and operating in over 50 countries. They also support faculty in creating courses and programs to help students become inventors and entrepreneurs.

VentureWell’s Faculty Grants provide up to $30,000 for faculty to develop courses and programs that focus on technology invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The grants:logo
• Support new (or help modify existing) courses and programs that lead to the formation of E-Teams–multidisciplinary groups of students, faculty, and mentors working together to bring inventions to market.
• Help students learn by doing–gaining entrepreneurial skills by actually forming a team and trying to make both the technology and business model work.
• Have a strong likelihood of supporting courses and programs that continue beyond the grant period and become part of a campus culture of innovation.

VentureWell’s Faculty Grants guidelines have been updated. There will be only ONE round of submissions per academic year. This year’s deadline is November 4, 2015. The next deadline will be fall of 2016. Learn more here about these grants including previously funded projects.

News from NIH on policy/requirement changes

NIG-logo_Wikimedia_NIHOver the last week, NIH announced various planned changes to policies, forms and instructions for grant applications submitted on or after January 25, 2016 (Phase I) or May 25, 2016 (Phase II, which includes extending Phase I changes to institutional training and individual fellowship applications). Changes will focus on the following areas:

Rigor and Transparency: 
Changes will be made to application requirements and review language to enhance reproducibility of research findings through increased scientific rigor and transparency. These changes will take effect for most research grant applications (including small business and complex research grant applications), but will not impact institutional training and individual fellowship applications until Phase II.
Changes include:

  • Updates to application guide instructions for preparing your research strategy attachment
  • Use of a new “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment (uploaded in Other Attachments section of R&R Other Project Information form)
  • Additional rigor and transparency questions reviewers will be asked to consider when reviewing applications

See NOT-OD-16-011 (Phase I) and NOT-OD-16-012 (Phase II) for specifics.

Vertebrate Animals:
NIH is removing redundancy with Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee review while still meeting the requirements of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
Changes include:

  • Updated guidance on criteria to be addressed (description of procedures; justifications; minimization of pain and distress; and euthanasia)
  • A description of veterinary care is no longer required
  • Justification for the number of animals has been eliminated
  • A description and justification of the method of euthanasia is required only if the method is not consistent with AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals

See NOT-OD-16-006. Note: This change does not apply to AHRQ applications.

New Font Guidelines:
Additional flexibility will be given regarding the fonts allowed in PDF attachments included in grant applications. Although NIH will continue to recommend specific fonts, they will also allow other fonts (both serif and non-serif) as long as they comply with specific type density and line spacing guidelines. See NOT-OD-16-009.

Research Training: 
Changes are being made to the research training data table format. Changes include:

  • Reducing the number of tables from 12 to 8
  • Minimizing the reporting of individual-level information
  • Extending the tracking of trainee outcomes from 10 to 15 years

NIH’s xTRACT system to help applicants prepare the new tables will be available October 16, 2015. See NOT-OD-16-007.

Additional changes address:

Learn more about these changes here.

OHSU/PNNL team receives $1.8M to support NIH Undiagnosed Disease Network

Investigators from OHSU and the Dept. of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory were awarded a three-year $1.8 million grant from NIH to support a nationwide project targeting undiagnosed diseases. OHSU will leverage its newly established collaboration with PNNL, the Northwest Co-Laboratory for Integrated ‘Omics, to support the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN). This award will be used to establish a Metabolomics Core to detect and quantify metabolites which can provide clues to enhance other types of data such as genetic and clinical information in reaching diagnoses.udnmap15

The UDN was established to expand the capacity of the Undiagnosed Disease Program at NIH headquarters in Bethesda, Md. The network consists of seven clinical sites, two DNA sequencing cores, and a coordinating center (see image for locations). The goal of creating a network is to facilitate cross-disciplinary approaches to identify the etiology of undiagnosed diseases by collecting and sharing standardized clinical and laboratory data.

David Koeller, M.D., professor of molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of the OHSU Metabolic clinic, and Thomas Metz, Ph.D., staff scientist at PNNL are co-principal investigators on the project. The team also includes Melissa Haendel, Ph.D., associate professor in the OHSU Library, and assistant professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

“This collaboration provides an opportunity to focus our combined expertise in metabolomics, deep phenotyping and inherited metabolic diseases on the problem of diagnosing the rare and unexplained disorders that will be encountered at the UDN clinical sites” said Koeller. “The knowledge gained from this project can also be leveraged to provide additional future benefits, such as the identification of novel methods and biomarkers that can be applied more broadly for the diagnosis and treatment of more common conditions.”

Read more about this award and collaboration.

This research is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number U01TR001395. 


OHSU researchers discover how to speed, improve Alzheimer’s clinical trials

What if clinical trials for new Alzheimer’s disease treatments could be made quicker, more efficient and more accurate? Jeff Kaye, M.D., director of OHSU’s Layton Center for Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, has found a way, using new technology to track the behaviors of patients. Kaye and his team of researchers determined that gathering and analyzing rich daily data points from trial participants significantly reduced the sample size required for clinical trials conducted to research treatments for the disease. Where the new technology comes in is how the data is collected. Through unobtrusive continuously monitored in-home sensors, researchers are able to gather information that more closely reflects people’s actual day-to-day performance of tasks and activities, including sleep habits, mobility, telephone use, and participants’ time away from the house.

This approach not only significantly reduces the need to enroll thousands of patients and follow them for many years at great cost, but provides more accurate data than twice-a-year memory tests. Using the current standard assessment, the memory test, an estimated sample size of 2,000 individuals followed over four years is required to see a meaningful treatment effect. When walking speed was used as the measurement, just 262 participants were needed. Similarly, when the measurement was computer use, 26 participants were needed. What this means is more accurate and speedy clinical trials, which, in turn, provides a quicker, more efficient route toward treatments for Alzheimer’s.

Their findings were published recently in PLOS ONE.

Who’s new at OHSU? Khaled Tolba, M.D.

Khaled Tolba, M.D., is an assistant professor of medical oncology, division of hematology-oncology and has been at OHSU since January. His research focuses on developmental therapeutics and early clinical trial development for lung, and head and neck cancer. In addition to helping facilitate access to the latest clinical trials, Tolba also cares for patients with these cancers, providing tailored treatments including immune therapy and molecular targeted therapies.

Where are you from originally?
I was born, raised, and educated in Cairo, Egypt. But I also completed part of my medical school training at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I then did a couple of years of research at Hoffmann-La Roche, in Basel, Switzerland and Milan, Italy. After that, I completed my residency at Tufts University in Boston and my fellowship at the University of Rochester. I stayed at the University of Rochester as faculty for nearly four years and then moved to take a position in lung cancer at the University of Miami where I stayed for about 12 years until I came to OHSU.

Khaled Tolba, M.D.

Khaled Tolba, M.D.

What brought you to OHSU?
My predecessor in this position moved to the University of Miami so that’s how I found out about the opportunity. I was very familiar with OHSU because I had been following the work of Brian Druker. My area of interest is in signal transduction in lung cancer, and there’s a lot of overlap between what people are trying to do in lung cancer today and what Dr. Druker did 20 years ago in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. In a sense, OHSU is at the epicenter of targeted therapy, so when this opportunity came up, I didn’t hesitate to take it.

I started my career as a physician-scientist; my lab worked on tumor immunology and signal transduction. Today, I’m a full-time clinician; I see most of the head and neck and lung cancer patients at OHSU. My time is divided 50/50 between research and patient-care activities. My research focuses on early phase clinical trial development and I have a particular interest in the development of combination targeted therapy for lung cancer.

What drew you to lung cancer research?
I was attracted to lung cancer as an example of a very complex disease. When I started working in the field about 15 years ago, there were no effective treatments, no rationally thought-out therapies. It was a fairly depressing field to get into, but it was also a very complex problem that I wanted to make a contribution to. What we knew back then was sort of naïve and pedestrian compared to what we know about lung cancer today. I would say the beginning of most of the work I do now began with the introduction of the first targeted agent in lung cancer, a small molecule inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor, gefetinib. This also coincided with the publication of the human genome by the Human Genome Project in 2001. The two events didn’t seem related at the time but in hindsight, the field couldn’t have moved forward the way it did building on one without the other. This sequencing technology developed for the Human Genome Project opened the door for us to sequence a tumor, understand what mutation is present, and then ask questions about that specific mutation.

Another significant development that changed the field of lung cancer research was the development of Next Generation Sequencing, or NGS, high throughput sequencing that allowed us to apply this knowledge to everyone with lung cancer. The Human Genome Project cost roughly $1 billion to sequence five or six people. So even if the cost of traditional sequencing comes down, you’re still looking at prohibitive cost associated with traditional sequencing methods. There are roughly 225,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer every year, so you’re never going to be able to apply something that expensive across the vast population with lung cancer. NGS was the great equalizer. It was sort of like Henry Ford developing the model T. Mass production allowed the middle class to purchase something that only the wealthy had been able to afford. That’s what NGS did for lung cancer patients. Lastly, the development of small molecules that can block certain signaling pathways made precision medicine a reality.

These developments were seminal because without finding the exact mutation, you can’t find the right treatment. You can’t test different hypothesis and treatment paradigms. Now, almost anyone diagnosed with lung cancer can have their tumor molecularly profiled to find their mutation driver. Then we can determine what agent can be applied to that tumor. Even though it’s not 100 percent effective- we don’t have treatment for every tumor type we identify – it really revolutionized the field. So much so that the most rapidly growing segment of lung cancer research is targeted therapy and small-molecule therapy that can inhibit signaling pathways. This is where the field is moving, and this is where my focus is in clinical research.

How does your research specifically tie in with these advancements?
My focus is on signal transduction – what makes a tumor cell behave the way it does? What makes it susceptible to certain drugs? My goal is to understand this process, a roadmap of what happens inside the tumor cell, and use that to identify targets to kill or stop cancer from growing. This type of investigation allows us to identify the “Achilles heel” of the tumor cell – what is its weakest point or pathway? Then we test different targeted therapies or specific molecules that will cripple that pathway in the tumor cells, and, for the most part, spare the rest of the body.

Until 10 or 15 years ago, the only available treatment was chemotherapy, which is a bit like killing a mosquito with a hammer and unfortunately, we were not that good at using the hammer either. If you’re lucky, you hit the mosquito but more often than not, you end up doing more damage than good. The new thinking is to use precision targeting – a new drug that attacks this vulnerable pathway in the tumor cell and spares the rest of the body.

My work is to develop new clinical trials that test this concept of targeted therapy. I have a couple of trials I’ve been working on for several years that will open here at OHSU in the near future. Both involve identifying these vulnerable pathways and testing various molecules to see if they disrupt the pathways. We are also testing different regimens for delivery of these molecules to see if there are ways to make them more effective at killing tumor cells.

For a very long time, people thought of lung cancer as a single entity and attributed it mostly to smoking. What we know now is that lung cancer is actually an umbrella term for nearly 25 different diseases or cancer types. They are different diseases that happen to share a single location – the lung. If you do a detailed sequencing of “lung cancer,” you’ll find a couple dozen different lung cancers. It’s similar to how people thought of the stars a thousand years ago – they’re all bright objects in the sky and it was only when we developed cutting edge telescopes that we were able to sort out these objects into planets, stars, and galaxies.

In order to effectively treat lung cancer we must put aside the old way of thinking and start looking at lung cancer’s subsets and apply treatments specific to those subsets. Lung cancer is the poster child for the precision medicine approach. The ability to be precise not only has bearing on the treatment for patient but also on cost. These drugs are very expensive, and using the wrong drug in the wrong patient is not only potentially fatal for the patient but also a huge waste of money.

tolba kidsWhat do you like to do for fun?
I really like to cycle, and I do a lot of that on the weekends. Also, my family just joined me here in Portland this summer so I enjoy spending time with my children who are now 6, 8 and 11. They’re involved in archery. They just finished a camp where they honed their skills – skills I’m sure will come in very handy.

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