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EUREKA grants awarded

Thirty-eight researchers were awarded with grants totaling $42.2 million dollars this week for their "linkurl:wild and crazy;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53456/ " ideas to change the way science is done. The EUREKA program (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration), sought proposals from investigators that were linkurl:innovative,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54322/ but required little or no preliminary data. "There were so many good

By | September 4, 2008

Thirty-eight researchers were awarded with grants totaling $42.2 million dollars this week for their "linkurl:wild and crazy;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53456/ " ideas to change the way science is done. The EUREKA program (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration), sought proposals from investigators that were linkurl:innovative,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54322/ but required little or no preliminary data. "There were so many good [projects]," said Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), the largest funder of the four NIH institutes participating. "We ended up funding more than we thought." The institute had set aside $5 million, but awarded nearly $6 million in grants. A few of the winning projects: Beverly Davidson from University of Iowa will engineer RNA aptamers to act as specific drug delivery agents to carry chemical payloads into the brain, a notoriously difficult drug target. Akira Chiba, at the University of Miami, will investigate ways to stimulate neural regeneration by shaking things up, on the local level. Since researchers have seen mechanical force foster regeneration, Chiba's group propose using nanotechnology, bioengineering and genetics to restore neural connectivity in damaged areas of the brain via a mechanical instead of molecular approach. Alexander Varshavsky from the California Institute of Technology will investigate a novel way of globally targeting cancer, by engineering a molecule that looks for the gaps, or deletions, in the genome. Cancer therapies targeting specific genes often fail because of ongoing genetic mutation in the cancer cell; additionally, current therapies have severe side effects because they don't target cancer cells exclusively, but also attack biologically similar healthy cells. Varshavksy proposes using a hallmark of cancer cells -- deletion mutations -- to specifically target the cancer. Each project will receive up to $800,000 over four years. The program is already accepting applications for next year's round of awards; in 2009, nine of the 27 NIH institutes will participate, including NIGMS, rather than the four that participated this year.
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Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 11

September 5, 2008

A very intriguing post by Edyta Zielinska. \n\nNow, given today's political (USA) climate, I have to ask: is this a joke, or has this program been taken over by the perpetrators of \n"Intelligent (LOL!) Design?"\n\nThanks for any light that you can shed on this article, as I have quite a few innovative ideas--which however even in the simplest form, alas do require at least a little preliminary data. I must've been living under a rock for the past few years, because I didn't realize the political climate in the labs, (at least, the NIH) had changed that substantially...\n\nANY light (I'm struggling to avoid a pun, here!) that you can shed--not on Edyta's blog, which I found fascinating--but on its subject matter? Thanks...
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 15

November 12, 2008

Much like DARPA, NIH has finally begun a highly innovative mechanism for funding novel and high risk ideas. This is long overdue. \n\nExpect the humdrum scientists who have thrived on scientific mediocrity to protest though, because they are afraid they will be pushed to think harder and make quantum leaps in their respective fields, if this program shows success! \n\nRight now, NIH is testing a hypothesis, much like HHMI is testing one in their Janelia Farm campus - to give folks the freedom to explore without the shackles that curb their creativity and perhaps we will advance knowledge in ways we havent done so far. Lets debate the merits of these mechanisms five years from now.\n\nGiven that only a tiny fraction of the total NIH budget is invested in this mechanism, my hats off to those who had the courage to fight off the nay sayers and nurtured this program. I, for one, think that the payoffs will be huge, if the reviews of these grants are done by study section members who themselves have a history of creativity, not necessarily "productivity - lots of meaningless papers".

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