Indiana University
IUSM IU
IU School of Medicine Deans' office updates and perspectives on IUSM research

The Wilkes Blog


A new faculty mentoring program — our latest investment in young researchers and the school’s research enterprise

Today in the latest edition of INScope we’re announcing our newest initiative to support and encourage our research faculty — in particular junior researchers — as we make our way in the new world of tight funding and miniscule paylines at the NIH.

Introducing the Independent Investigator Incubator, or I3, or as some of you have heard me say, “I-Cubed.” The I3 was created by, and will be led by Aaron Carroll, now the associate dean for research mentoring at IUSM.

The idea is to spin off successful researchers similar to the way business incubators are created to spin off successful new businesses. Instead of offering shared office equipment and legal services, we’re offering senior faculty “supermentors.”

To quote Aaron, “we’re offering resources and the ability to be paired with very successful faculty members who have agreed to make a serious commitment to the personal and professional success of junior independent investigators.”

In addition, there will be support services available including a professional grant writer and a biostatistician.

Mentoring is an important goal in our strategic plan, the Transforming Research Initiative, and the I3 also is supported by the Indiana CTSI. An I3 portal is under development on the Indiana CTSI web site.

Thinking of the work of enhancing and growing our research enterprise as a complex puzzle, then the I3 provides another important piece, along with our Industry Collaboration Portal led by JaiPal Singh, our incentives to encourage T32 training grants, the Project Development Teams and other CTSI initiatives and our Peer Review and Mentoring Committees.

I particularly want to remind you about the Peer Review and Mentoring Committees, which are ready and waiting to help turn those “oh-so-close” grant applications into successful resubmissions. You can learn more and get started on the PRMC section of the CTSI web site.


A new leader for the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

Filed under: Basic science,Faculty,Research — Tags: , , , , — David Wilkes on August 13, 2014 @ 11:19 am

The official announcements are coming soon but I’ll let you know now: After an intensive search, we have selected Lang Li as the new director of the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.

Lang has a strong vision for further embedding the center into the research enterprise of the school of medicine. Bioinformatics is key to many of our research projects and proposals, and its importance will only grow.

Lang has done an excellent job as interim director since founding Director Keith Dunker stepped down and I know you will join me in congratulating both men for their work in creating and building this important center.

Thanks also to the members of the search committee who worked diligently to find the right leader for this vital center at the school.

 


Time is running out to check your Sunshine Act report

Filed under: Clinical research,Faculty,Sunshine Act — Tags: , — David Wilkes on August 12, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

If you do clinical work and you have put off checking your record in the new Open Payments web site tracking industry payments to doctors, here’s my advice: Stop procrastinating!

On Sept. 30 the data about industry payments to physicians will be made public as required by the Sunshine Act. That means all payments that a pharmaceutical or device manufacturing company made to you — or thinks it made to you — for the past year will be available for everyone to review, download and do with as they will.

So you want it to be accurate.

You have until Aug. 27 look at your personal record at the Open Payments web site, see if there are any reported payments you disagree with and mark them as disputed.

Reviewing your file is a two-stage process. First you must go to https://portal.cms.gov and create an account to prove that you are you and thus authorized to review the data about you. The second stage is to check the information. The third stage, if needed, is to file a dispute with the agency. Did I mention you need to do that by Aug. 27?

I can tell you from personal experience this is not something you can expect to do in 15 minutes. You need to set aside a good two hours or more to finish the process. If you have to quit before you’ve finished, you’ll need to start over when you return to the web site.

If you dispute information, you have to resolve differences directly with the manufacturer. If you don’t reach a resolution, the payment will be published and marked “disputed.” If you do nothing by Aug. 27, payments will remain in the database until the next round in 2015, even if you later dispute the report.

So, now may be a good time to get started.

Here are some links for more information:

Information we’ve published in INScope: http://bit.ly/V415Z4

Information from the AAMC:

https://www.aamc.org/download/386718/data/newdocument.pdf

Tips and tricks published by Stanford University:

http://www.iu.edu/%7Eiunews/img/in-scope/July31_2014/CMS_Tips_07-28-14.pdf

Frequently asked questions:

http://www.iu.edu/%7Eiunews/img/in-scope/July31_2014/CMS_FAQs_07-28-14.pdf

 


A new business minor for our doctoral students

As many of you know, the IU School of Medicine is the second-largest medical school in the nation in terms of number of medical students enrolled — more than 1,300 now. But we also have a good number of doctoral students — just over 210, plus 46 enrolled in our M.D./Ph.D. program.

These are talented folks and many of them, it’s fair to say, have an eye on a career in academic research — just like their mentors. In fact, that’s what we’ve always done — and do — as mentors: We train these young doctoral students to be just like us. And these days, amid ever-tightening research funding and what many call a Ph.D. “glut,” more of the same is a disservice.

So starting with the spring 2015 semester, IUSM doctoral students will have the opportunity to pursue a new minor in the Business of Biomedical Sciences. This program was just approved by the IUPUI Graduate Office and IUPUI Executive Vice President Nasser Paydar.

Under the leadership of Randy Brutkiewicz, associate dean for graduate studies, we’ve put together a nine-credit minor incorporating existing courses from the schools of business, law and medicine as well as an eight-week internship. The program includes such courses as Translational Research and Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property of Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices.

Why do this? Whatever you think about the causes, cures or even existence of a Ph.D. glut, some of our grads have and will go on to careers outside academia. But that world, like ours, is changing fast and we want to help provide those grads with business and entrepreneurial tools that will be increasingly important whether they are working in health care systems, big pharma, biotech startups or careers grappling with intellectual property issues.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions, post them here or send a note to Randy at rbrutkie@iupui.edu.


Another stellar set of Showalter Scholars

Today we welcome a new class of Showalter Scholars, four outstanding young scientists at the IU School of Medicine who were nominated for this honor — and funding — as a result of their strong records of research and external awards.

This year’s Scholars, who exemplify the excellence here at the IU School of Medicine, are:

  • Rebecca Chan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics who joined the school in 2002. An investigator with the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Dr. Chan’s research centers on the etiology of phenotypic abnormalities found in Noonan syndrome and the childhood leukemia known as juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia.
  • Melissa Kacena, Ph.D., associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, who joined the school in 2007. Dr. Kacena specializes in research into the regulation of bone mass and bone healing by megakaryocytes.
  • William Sullivan, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology. Dr. Sullivan, who joined the school in 2000, focuses his work on the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which both poses health threats to humans and serves as a model for malaria parasite research.
  • Mingjiang Xu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics. Dr. Xu, an investigator with the Wells Center for Pediatric Research who joined the school in 2011, focuses on the molecular mechanism of myeloid malignancies.

Each Showalter Scholar receives $75,000 over three years to support their research programs, with $25,000 the first year from the Showalter Trust, $25,000 the second year from the nominating department or center, and the third year’s installment from the School.

This is the second class of Showalter Scholars (last year’s Scholars were Aaron Carroll, Alex Robling, Robert Stahelin and Kenneth White) and eventually there will be 12 at any given time, as each year one group comes to the end of its three-year term and another group begins.

Once again, we’re grateful to the Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Research Trust Fund for its support of research at the School.

If you have someone in mind who would make a good Showalter Scholar candidate, the deadline for the next round of nominations from department chairs or center directors is the first business day of February, 2015.


We’re adding incentives to boost our training grant activity

Filed under: Basic science,Clinical research,Education,Faculty,Grants,Research — Tags: , , , , — David Wilkes on June 16, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

A quick note about training grants: Not long ago we took a look at these awards at the IU School of Medicine and it appeared to me that we haven’t attracted as many of these T32 grants as you might expect for a school our size. Right now we have just 13.

Obviously we spend a lot of time and effort on R01s and other significant research awards, but the value of T32s shouldn’t be overlooked. They help fund some great post-graduate work, they’re important for training the next generation of scientists, and they demonstrate the NIH’s confidence in our ability to train those investigators.

So to encourage more applications for T32 awards, we’re initiating annual support for new and competing renewal NIH training grants with payment of 5 percent paid effort for the PI (up to the NIH salary cap) and $15,000 for training-related expenses. (We want to encourage more submissions, so, sorry, this support is not retroactive.)

Don’t forget, as we announced December, Randy Brutkiewicz and his colleagues in the Graduate Division have put together a training grant resource site in OnCourse with copies of applications — funded and unfunded — summary statements and other related documents. The Graduate Division office also offers extensive help with the development of tables for training grants, and other resources.  Contact Randy about this.

 


Good news on the startup company front

Here at the IU School of Medicine, starting up businesses based on our research was not at the top of the priority list for a long time. But in the 2000s, partly due to the infusion of funds for the Indiana Genomics Initiative ($155 million from the Lilly Endowment) that started to change.

In the mid-2000s we saw a handful of companies formed based on our research discoveries, in a process that sometimes was painful to work through (I know this firsthand because I was involved with one of those companies: Immune Works, started in 2007).

The good news is that in the last couple of years, our entrepreneurial activities have leaped ahead. Through 2009, according to the IU Research and Technology Corp. (IURTC), nine startup companies had been formed with IURTC assistance. Since then, 21 more companies have started up.

That’s a nice startup mini-boom for which I give credit in several areas. For one, Merv Yoder has been doing great work as assistant dean for entrepreneurial research. Also, our technology transfer colleagues at the IURTC keep improving the system for turning our valuable IP into businesses. One of their recent successful initiatives has been the Spin Up program, which streamlines the process for our researchers. And finally, I think we’re developing a more entrepreneurial and translational mindset at the school, for which the Indiana CTSI has to get a lot of credit as well.

Questions or ideas? Contact Merv at myoder@iu.edu, Marie Kerbeshian at IURTC at mkerbesh@iu.edu, or Joe Trebley, jtrebley@iu.edu, who directs IURTC’s Spin Up program. Or leave me a comment here.


One more reason to use our peer review and mentoring committees

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Wilkes on April 30, 2014 @ 11:39 am

A recent policy change by the National Institutes of Health is just one more reason to take advantage of the services of our Peer Review and Mentoring Committees (PRMCs).

The PRMCs use the experience and expertise of some of our successful scientists to review and advise colleagues who are working on grant proposals — both new proposals and resubmissions.  Each of these committees also has a project manager and a biostatistician assigned to it to assist investigators.

Now the NIH has announced that proposals that do not get funded on resubmission no longer need to have their content and scope overhauled to be eligible for another try as a new submission.  This decision by the NIH to revise its resubmission policy makes the PRMCs an even better deal for research faculty.  Effective immediately, the PRMCs will not only assist with grant resubmissions, but will work with investigators on submissions of “new” proposals that were previously reviewed by NIH, but not funded.  This is an ideal opportunity for IUSM researchers to make use of the PRMCs and their expertise.

Initially, the PRMCs are focusing on three of the IU School of Medicine’s important thematic areas: neuroscience, chaired by Mike Vasko; cardiovascular disease, chaired by Mike Sturek; and obesity/metabolism, co-chaired by Aaron Carroll and Bob Considine.

Proposals should be submitted at the Indiana CTSI Hub – go to: https://www.indianactsi.org/prmc-home. For more information, contact Tammy Sajdyk at CTSI.


Some good news on NIH grant resubmissions

Filed under: Basic science,Clinical research,Faculty,Grants,Research — Tags: , , , , , — David Wilkes on April 23, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

In these days of tight money for research, it’s nice to see some positive news out of Washington. This week the NIH announced it has changed its resubmission policy, backing off a bit from the 2009 decision to allow only one resubmission application of an unfunded grant proposal.

With that change in 2009, the NIH instituted a requirement that if the resubmission was not funded, it would need a major overhaul to both content and scope to be eligible for another try as a new submission.

This week the agency announced that proposals that didn’t get funded on resubmission will no longer need to be significantly redesigned to be submitted as a new application. However, the one-resubmission limit remains in effect.

It’s not easy to predict exactly how this will play out, but I’m hopeful it will mean more competitive submissions from IUSM research faculty as we struggle to maintain our funding levels. Now that good idea that didn’t quite make it on the first two attempts may get over the top with another tweak or two as a new submission.

What the change won’t produce, of course, is more money for NIH-funded research; hopefully, it will mean fewer good science proposals left on the table (or the floor) for policy reasons.

As for the tight money situation, well, that’s mostly another battle for another branch of government.

For more details about the change and the thinking behind it, have a look at the Extramural Nexus blog post by Sally Rockey, the NIH deputy director for extramural research.

For the details, you can read the actual policy notice.

 


Credit Where Credit is Due

We’ve got good people here at the IU School of Medicine and it’s time for some kudos to those who’ve recently been recognized for their work (and as a result, will also be spreading the word about IUSM). In no particular order:

Two of our young faculty members, Jie Sun and Henrique Serezani, have been selected as associate scientific advisers to the scientific journal Science Translational Medicine, a sister publication of the journal Science. Their tasks will be to write monthly “Editor’s Choice” articles about current papers from other journals in their areas of interest, crafting summaries of 300 words or so in language that, in the words of the journal’s editor, “is understandable to a broad range of scientists.”

Sun, an assistant professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology, is interested in the regulation of immune response during acute respiratory virus infections. Serezani, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, is interested in diabetes and sepsis — how sepsis, even after it’s been effectively treated, can leave patients susceptible to secondary infections.

Meanwhile, two of our pediatrics faculty, Stephanie Davis and Brenda Poindexter, have been elected to three-year terms on the Society for Pediatrics Research Council, the leadership group for the national academic pediatrics organization. Davis is section director, pediatric pulmonology, allergy and sleep medicine. Poindexter is principal investigator for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD Neonatal Research Network at IU.

But Davis and Poindexter are adding to an already strong IU presence on the SPR Council. Stephanie Ware, newly appointed professor of pediatrics and of medical and molecular genetics will finish her three-year term in May. Pediatric endocrinologist Linda DiMeglio is in her second year on the council, and David Ingram is the past president of the society and will be leaving the council in May. All-in-all, a strong presence for IU pediatrics.

And finally, as many of you know, Aaron Carroll, director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, and several colleagues have made the Incidental Economist the go-to blog on health policy over the past several years. Now Carroll and his fellow blogger, Austin Frakt, have agreed to contribute their perspectives to the New York Times’ new Upshot venture. Upshot, according to The Times, will work to “demystify politics, economics and other subjects.” (Their work on the Incidental Economist will continue.)


Older Posts »
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: