Well, the closest things to cleared concepts for trans-institute initiatives anyway. The New Roadmap Initiatives for 2008 actually look promising.
The IC Directors have selected 5 topics to be developed for further consideration as Major Roadmap Initiative Proposals:
- Microbiome – The Microbiome is the full collection of microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) that naturally exist within the human body. Initiatives in this area would focus on developing a deeper understanding of these communities of microbes in order to determine how they affect human health.
- Protein Capture/Proteome Tools – The Proteome is the complete set of proteins in the body. Efforts in this area would support developing and making available to the scientific community high quality probes specific to every protein in the human and in desired animal models. This would allow the ability to characterize protein function in health and disease and to monitor the markers of a disease in order to deploy early prevention efforts and to identify potential therapeutic targets.
- Phenotyping services and tools – A human Phenotype is the total physical appearance and constitution of a person, often determined by multiple genes and influenced by environmental interactions. Initiatives in this area would encourage the development of resources to systematically catalog human phenotypes in an effort to characterize complex diseases and disorders.
- Inflammation as a common mechanism of disease – While significant breakthroughs have occurred in our understanding of inflammation, research is needed to further understand inflammatory processes. Because inflammation is broadly implicated in many diseases and conditions, this initiative would be valuable in uncovering as-yet-unknown immune mechanisms and mediators of inflammation as well as genetic factors, environmental triggers, and the relationship of inflammation to disease.
- Epigenetics – Epigenetics is the study of stable genetic modifications that result in changes in gene expression and function without a corresponding alteration in DNA sequence. The epigenome is a catalog of the epigenetic modifications that occur in the genome. Epigenetic changes have been associated with disease, but further progress requires the development of better methods to detect the modifications and a clearer understanding of factors that drive these changes.
Also, the IC Directors recognized that other concepts highlighted through the idea nomination process are potentially important. However, they are not appropriate at this time for selection as major Roadmap Initiatives. These areas were designated for development through smaller pilot studies proposals:
- Genetic Connectivity Map – The Connectivity Map is an effort to discover and demonstrate the linkages between diseases, drug candidates, and genetic manipulation.
- Transient Molecular Complexes – Transient Molecular Complexes are temporary molecular complexes that are continuously created and destroyed within our cells. Our current level of understanding of cellular biology and the complex interactions that lead to the development and progression of diseases is primarily based upon easily characterized static models (which do not include transient complexes). Understanding interactions within transient complexes is essential for robust modeling that can accurately describe how diseases develop and progress.
These plans will receive final review and priority recommendations in late Spring, 2007 by the IC Directors before being forwarded to the NIH Director, who will consult with the Advisory Committee to the Director before selecting the new Roadmap initiatives in Summer/Fall 2007.
Put your thinking caps on about how you might competitively respond to RFAs derived from these initiatives later this year.