T H E   N I H   C A T A L Y S T     N O V E M B E R   –   D E C E M B E R  2007



From the Consortium

The Biomarkers Consortium, a public-private biomedical research partnership managed by the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), provides an opportunity for intramural research staff to engage in joint projects with industry, FDA, and a variety of other partners to discover, develop, and qualify biomarkers across the spectrum of biomedical research.

The Consortium is soliciting project concepts from researchers and the general public worldwide. The Consortium’s goal is to accelerate the delivery of successful new technologies, medicines, and therapies.

Tried-and-true biomarkers—such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels to assess heart disease risk, and CD4 T-cell counts and viral-load levels to assess HIV/AIDS—are windows into disease progression and regression. Biomarkers can help identify those at risk for developing disease, help stratify patients according to prognosis, demonstrate early signs of organ involvement or damage, and help assess response to treatment.

Such biomarkers can therefore help identify new drug targets or indicate which drugs under development can move to the next stage. They can be used to determine which patients will best benefit from a drug.

The Human Genome Project and proteomics research have unsealed a trove of potential biomarkers. Medical imaging, too, can identify a biomarker to trace visibly how cancer responds to treatment by tracking radioactively tagged glucose uptake by tumors.

The Biomarkers Consortium has raised more than $6 million in private funds for two NCI-led projects on lung cancer and lymphoma involving fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography. Another NIH-led project, submitted by NIMH intramural scientists, focuses on PET radiopharmaceutical development for neurode-generative and possibly atherosclerosis and brain cancer therapeutics.

Projects on imaging and biochemical markers for Alzheimer’s disease progression and on adiponectin, a candidate marker for diabetes, are also being considered.

The Consortium has four subject-focused steering committees at this time: neuroscience, metabolic disorders, cancer, and inflammation and immunity. Future steering committees can be established as project concepts are proposed.

NIHers must submit proposed project concepts through their scientific director, using the form found at the website.

If the concept is recommended for further development, a more detailed project plan is created by the PI and a project team created for this effort. The plan details such things as experimental methods, data collection, and intellectual property. Upon project approval, the FNIH begins the fundraising process.

The NIH Program on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) can help NIH staff, grantees, and contractors with Biomarker Consortium policies and procedures; the PPP program also can assist and advise in developing and submitting project concepts and plans and generally help keep the process on track. Barbara Mittleman is the PPP program director, and Shawnmarie Mayrand-Chung is the NIH program director for the Biomarker Consortium.

All the players have something to gain from this new research opportunity, says Consortium Director C. Anthony Altar of the FNIH. Researchers secure funding for important basic research; private companies can share the cost of research they otherwise would have had to fund independently; the FDA gets involved early in the drug- or technology-development process; measurements are standardized; and everyone is on the same page.

Participants in the Consortium are its founding members—FNIH, NIH, FDA, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America—and more than 40 companies, trade associations, and advocacy groups. David Lee, deputy director for partnership development with FNIH, develops and manages these partnerships and is responsible for fundraising activities for both the projects and the contributing-membership program.

This precompetitive public-private partnership is designed to produce public resources rather then intellectual property. Having multiple discovery and regulatory parties involved in every project produces a synergy that quickens the pace of development and the translation of excellent science to benefits in public health.


The NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series (WALS) features top biomedical researchers from around the globe. The Director’s series has been bringing in outstanding seminar speakers since its inception in 1952, and in the current format since 1994. NIH Special Interest Groups are all soliciting names of speakers for next year’s WALS.

Many fellows, like me, have attended WALS lectures—held in Masur auditorium on Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m.—but many fellows may not realize that we have the opportunity to nominate speakers in this series.

If the prospect of attending a presentation in your field of study is not enough to persuade you to nominate a speaker, you, the nominator, may also participate in the hosting of the lecturer if he or she is chosen. As you can imagine, serving as a WALS host, and perhaps having breakfast with him or her, is an excellent way to become acquainted with an admired scientist—perhaps a future colleague.

FELCOM is collecting nominations from the NIH fellows community. So think about a speaker you have seen, perhaps at a recent conference, who gave an excellent seminar and nominate that person. FELCOM nominations for the 2008–2009 WALS series are now underway and will continue until November 21.

E-mail your nominations to Kristi Muldoon Jacobs with "WALS nomination" in the subject line. Include the nominee’s name, institutional affiliation, professional title, and contact information—and a brief paragraph on his or her qualifications. FELCOM especially encourages the nomination of women and minority speakers. Priority will be given to nominees who have not recently presented a WALS lecture, so be sure to check the WALS website for the list of current and past speakers.


Your nominee might also be suited for one of the special NIH lectures listed at this website.

Finally, don’t forget the Cultural Lecture slot—do you have a favorite writer or some other fascinating figure whose wit and wisdom you would love to bring to NIH? Think about it—and nominate.


Lori Bibb

Demystifying Medicine for Ph.D.s, 2008

The Demystifying Medicine course will be held every Tuesday from January 8 to May 13, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Building 50 ground-floor auditorium. All presentations will be videocast and archived.

For academic credit, register with FAES; otherwise, registration is at the Listserv. The schedule can also be seen at the website.

Date Speakers Subject
8 John Coffin (NCI)
Henry masur (CC)
HIV/AIDS: the ultimate chamelion
15 Michael (NHLBI)
Bob Balaban (NHLBI)
Heart failure: advances regarding a major clinical problem
22 Meral Gunay-Aygun (NHGRI)
Carolyn Ott (NICHD)
Cystic diseases and cilia: a new frontier
29 Harvey Klein (CC)
Harvey Alter (CC)
Diseases from the Blood bank: progress and the future

Warren Strober (NIDDK)
Peter Mannon (NIAID)

Inflammatory bowel disease: what is the target?
12 Thomas Wellems (NIAID) John Robbins (NICHD) Malaria: big killer and big advances

Nora Volkow (NIDA)
Monica Skarulis (NIDDK)

Hunger, appetite, obesity, addiction: the new pandemic

26 Abner Notkins (NIDCR)
Phillip Gorden (NIDDK)
Diabetes and autoimmunity: turning against self
4 Amy Agrwal (CC)
Philip Murphy (NIAIAD)
West Nile virus: a new threat

Les Biesecker (NHGRI)
Julie Sapp (NHGRI)

Genetic screening: finding Mendelian disease genes

Andrew Singleton (NIA)
Katrina Gwinn-Hardy (NINDS)

Neurologic diseases in the genome era
25 Francis Collins (NHGRI)
Sharon Milgram (OD)
Cystic fibrosis: a common inheritable disease with many unknowns
1 William Gahl, Marjan Huizing, Amanda Helip-Wooley, Wendy Westbroek (NHGRI) Lysosomal diseases: patients and problems
8 Ellen Sidransky (NIMH)
Chris Austin (NHGRI)
Haucher's disease: treating a genetic disease
15 Leighton Chan (CC)
Walter Koroshetz (NINDS)
and DOD colleagues
Traunatic brain injury: mechanisms, treatment, and challenges
22 Howard Fine (NCI)
and colleagues
Brain cancer: problems and progress
29 Ezekiel Emanuel (CC)
Win Arias (NICHD/OD)
Liver cancers: a global problem. Who gets THE liver transplant?
6 Giuseppe Giaccone (NCI) Lyuba Varticovski (NCI) Lung cancer: clinical progress and the cancer stem cell paradigm


Finale: Minisymposium:What does the future hold for Ph.D.s?
PRAT Fellowship Applications Due January 30, 2008

The NIGMS Pharmacology Research Associate (PRAT) program is now accepting applications for positions to begin October 2008. This competitive research fellowship program supports training at NIH or FDA laboratories for postdoctoral candidates. The program focuses on training in the pharmacological sciences and related research areas such as molecular pharmacology, signal-transduction mechanisms, drug metabolism, immunopharmacology, chemistry and drug design, structural biology, endocrinology, bioinformatics, and neuroscience.

PRAT fellowships are three-year appointments at competitive salaries. Some supply and travel funds are provided to help support research in preceptors’ laboratories. Applicants must identify a preceptor in their application. Preceptors may be any tenured or tenure-track scientist at NIH or FDA who has agreed to host the applicant. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States and have been at the NIH or FDA for no more than one year at the time they submit their application.

Applications for the 2008 PRAT Fellowships will be accepted through January 30, 2008. For more information or application materials, contact the PRAT program assistant at (301) 594-3583 or e-mail.




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