IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
April 28, 2006
I. Update on the Genetic Association Information Network (GAIN) and the Genes and Environment Initiative (GEI)
Dr. Collins provided an overview of the newly implemented GAIN and GEI project. He compared the whole genome association 2002 view to the 2006 approach to common disease that now includes:
This adds up to 600 million genotypes plus the cost of a genotype has dropped to $0.005, which is ~$3 million for each disease (a profound drop in cost).
GAIN is a public-private partnership between NIH, the FNIH, and the private sector (Pfizer, Affymetrix, Abbot, and potentially other future partners) and was announced on February 8, 2006. Its goal is to support the laboratory costs of whole genome association studies of common disease. There are now sufficient funds to support genotyping for 6-7 common disease projects partly through funding and partly through facilities. The guiding principle of GAIN is that the greatest public benefit will be achieved if results of whole genome association studies are made immediately available. GAIN is overseen by a Steering Committee and Executive Committee with extensive support by NIH and FNIH staff. The FNIH Board of Directors has final say in policy decisions.
Several GAIN policies have been established by the Steering Committee, including the following:
The GEI is proposed as part of the FY07 President’s budget and its aim is to accelerate the understanding of genetic and environmental contributions to health and disease. This includes whole genome association genotyping of case-control studies of common diseases and development of innovative technologies to measure environmental exposures, diet, and physical activity.
Dr. Collins concluded his presentation by discussing the potential need for harmonization of policies for whole genome association studies across NIH. This would not only show that the NIH has its house in order, but it would be less confusing to the community.
Dr. Zerhouni summed up the discussion by recommending that he would like to appoint a high level ad hoc committee, chaired by an IC Director and possibly a co-chair from the OD, and asks that this group develop a recommendation regarding harmonization to bring before the NIH Steering Committee. Given the deadline for GAIN applications of May 9, it will be important for this committee to act quickly.
II. NIH Governance Model Evaluation
The evaluation team for the NIH Steering Committee consisted of Dr. Tom Insel, Dr. Story Landis, Dr. Betsy Nabel, and Dr. Allen Spiegel. Their charge was to assess this governance model’s success in identifying and providing timely recommendations on significant trans-NIH policy issues and communicating results to the IC Directors not on the Steering Committee; make course-correction recommendations; and consult with all IC Directors and Working Group co-chairs.
The evaluation team met with the IC Directors, Working Group co-chairs, Dr. Kington, and Dr. Zerhouni to review issues pertaining to the governance model. Drs. Insel, Landis, and Nabel then discussed the subsequent findings and conclusions including:
The team concluded with the following recommendations:
Dr. Zerhouni thanked all for their candor and reminded all that the governance model does not govern everything. He recommended that the ASC include a broad representation of the NIH community, possibly including IC Directors not on the SC but certainly not limited to IC Directors. He concluded by stating that he looks forward to the presentation of the Steering Committee implementation plan at a future IC Directors meeting.
III. Advances in Biomedical Imaging and Progress Toward the 3Ps
Dr. Pettigrew began his presentation by sharing the ranking of the top 30 medical advances—MRI and CT are at the top of the list. He then outlined his intent to address the progress of imaging as it relates to two recent trans-NIH thematic goals:
To define imaging, he shared the perspective from Dr. Zerhouni that, “[i]maging is the science of extracting spatially and temporally resolved information at all physical scales.”
Dr. Pettigrew discussed examples of technical progress and benefits provided by the advances in spatial resolution and time/temporal resolution over the last five years. During this time, spatial resolution has improved by a factor of 4 and temporal resolution has improved by a factor of 10 or more for MRI. These improvements are due to scientific advances such as stronger magnets, efficient data acquisition schemes using multi-channels systems, simultaneous or raw data (parallel K space) signal acquisition methods, and clever mathematically based approaches to take advantage of the temporal symmetry of the raw MRI data signals. He visually demonstrated many of these advances by comparing different techniques that have been developed and even comparing the earliest images from the 2003 Nobel Prize in Medicine winners with images obtained with these latest advances. He went on to display the practical utility of these advances in MR antiography (much less time for complete studies, now done in seconds vs. minutes) with the following examples:
He also explained and illustrated that some of the more exciting advances are at the cellular level, including new approaches to detect organ rejection by tracking iron label monocytes, auto fluorescence optical imaging to detect cancer at the very early cellular stage, and neutrophil tracking in early arthritis where the genetic basis can be studied with cells from various knockout mice labeled with different frequency optical probes. He concluded by discussing three advances at the molecular level. First, he demonstrated the progress towards a more rational drug design via identification of protein structure of trans-membrane protein receptors such as GPCR using MR spectroscopic imaging. Second, he discussed the potential of an “optical biopsy” for gene expression by imaging. He used as an example a gene-based fluorescent labeled drug such as Herceptin that could be used to identify patients who have high levels of HER2 gene expression and are thus candidates for treatment with this drug. Third, he explained the use of direct imaging of angiogenesis with targeted MR sensitive nanoparticles to monitor anti-angiogenic therapy.
Dr. Pettigrew summarized his presentation with the following points:
This page was last reviewed on September 21, 2006 .
National Institutes of Health (NIH)