New ideas for Common Fund programs are identified through a multi-phased strategic planning process involving input from both many internal and external scientists. The concepts represent emerging areas of research opportunity or roadblocks to research that if removed could accelerate research discovery.
In May of 2010, the NIH hosted the “Big Think” meeting on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, to gather input from a distinguished panel of experts about the most pressing issues facing health research today, and to provide ideas about how the NIH might use the Common Fund to address these issues (view the Meeting Report). The conversation was structured around three of the NIH Director’s five priorities for the NIH -- High Throughput Technologies, Translation, and Science of Health Care Reform – because the other two priority areas -- Global Health and Invigorating the Research Enterprise -- had been the subject of other previous expert panel meetings.
Of the many cross-cutting concepts discussed, the following three are being pursued further via planning activities beginning in fiscal year 2011.
- Single Cell Analyses: including possible new methods and resource development
- Metabolomics: including possible metabolic profiling in small samples and/or single cells and clinical application
- New Research Models -- Large Prospective Studies: Large prospective studies are ideal models for defining disease burden in a population and for launching studies to examine the many genetic and environmental factors that contribute to disease, paving the way for personalized medicine. Advantages of large-scale approaches over smaller scale or retrospective study designs include greater generalizability of the research findings and efficiencies in time and resources because a single large, well defined cohort can be built to address multiple research questions within a single research framework.
The U.K. Biobank is a large-scale national resource initiated in 2004 to assess trends in disease burden and examine genetic and environmental risk factors for specific diseases. The approach used by the Biobank has enabled its leaders to achieve exceptional efficiencies in recruitment, assessment and record linkage. By spring of 2010, the UK Biobank will have reached its goal of 500,000 participants and begin closing down its field centers. To explore this model while it was still actively in place, the NIH convened a symposium to hear first hand from the leadership of the U.K. Biobank, and from leaders of other large national and international cohort studies and biobanks, about novel study designs, lessons learned, and opportunities that may inform NIH programs.
The NIH hosted the New Models for Large Prospective Studies symposium on January 22, 2010 in Bethesda, Maryland to:
- Hear from national and international leaders and funders of large cohort studies and biobanks, in particular the UK Biobank, about novel study designs; approaches to achieve efficiencies in recruitment, examination, and sample collection and handling; strategies to address consent and confidentiality; and lessons learned from pilot studies and full-scale implementations; and
- Identify areas of opportunity and collaboration, and identify possible next steps.
View the meeting agenda and list of participants…
Access the Meeting Report and Summaries of Large Cohort Studies…
Listen to the meeting videocast…
View the Planning Group Members…
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