The National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Biology (NCI DCB) and IBM Research are partnering to build a Community of Accelerated Discovery composed of a multi-disciplinary group of researchers focused on the discovery implications of clinical translation of biologically informed combination therapies for cancer. The over-arching goal is to bring together clinical, cancer biology, and computational experts and foster the formation of new collaborations, and the sharing of resources, data, and expertise, with the end goal of addressing the biological complexity at the core of combination therapy interventions in cancer that may lead to more effective patient outcomes. The Community of Accelerated Discovery will be enabled by a platform for access to computational resources, tools, methods, and data.

Application Deadline: November 22nd, 2021

Micro Lab topics

To understand the research landscape and key opportunities to accelerate biologically informed combination therapies discovery and development, the NCI DCB and IBM Research ran a series of microlabs focused on four sub-topics:

The microlabs were informed by opening talks and discussion among cancer biologists, clinical researchers and computational modelers and further illuminated in small-group discussions of interested participants.

One key area of opportunity that emerged from the microlab conversations was a need and opportunity to bring together advances in ex-vivo engineered systems (e.g. tissue engineered systems, biomimetic systems), mathematical and computational modeling, mechanistic cancer biology, and clinical research to model, discover, and test hypotheses related to the effects of combination therapies that account for intra and inter tumor heterogeneity. To accelerate new collaborations and advances in this area, the NCI DCB and IBM Research will host an Innovation Lab.

The Ideas Lab - Biologically Informed Models of Combination Therapies

The Innovation Lab will bring together PI-level cancer researchers (both biological and clinical), biomedical engineers who specialize in developing ex-vivo experimental systems, and computational modelers (mathematicians, AI and HPC experts). The goal of the Lab is to form new collaborations and develop innovative approaches and pilot projects that enable biologically-informed combination therapies through integration of computational models, ex-vivo experimental models, therapy mechanism of action and clinical outcomes.

At the Lab, interdisciplinary teams will form and work together to ideate and tackle selected challenges in this area. Over the course of five days, teams will develop project sketches guided by feedback from expert mentors and other participants. The goal is to stimulate new collaborations and new pilot projects.

Who Should Apply

We encourage PI-level researchers, engineers and computational experts to consider how your experience could help to develop innovative and immersive methods to model and uncover the intricacies of cancer combination therapies. We are most interested in new, innovative ideas and original thinking that arise from new collaborations among people of diverse backgrounds, expertise and approaches.

Approximately 30 applicants will be selected to participate in the Innovation Lab based on their interest, expertise, and openness to actively engage in interdisciplinary collaboration. Consideration will be given to balance a range of disciplines and experiences. All participants should be willing to engage in frank, interactive disclosure and assessment of ideas in a collegial and professional fashion. To facilitate open sharing, all meeting discussions will be considered a private communication not to be shared outside of the meeting unless approved by the contributor.

Opportunities to apply for pilot funding as well as existing funding opportunities will be highlighted during the workshop. We encourage teams to develop applications from their project sketches for existing NIH funding opportunities and work with NIH staff to identify appropriate opportunities.

Why and How to Apply

If you’re interested in working with new colleagues, forging new collaborations and new directions in cancer research, building new models of cancer combination therapies, please consider applying for this innovation lab opportunity. Please be prepared to answer questions about yourself, your work and collaboration experiences, your research focus, and why you are interested in and qualified for the Innovation Lab. Applications will be reviewed internally by the Innovation Lab mentors and IBM Research and NCI organizers. Research-related information will be kept confidential. Please share this information with any colleagues you think may be interested.

Apply to Ideas Lab - January 24-28th, 2022