IUSM precision medicine proposal one of five IU Grand Challenges finalists

January 14, 2016

An IU School of Medicine proposal to develop a comprehensive precision medicine initiative is one of five finalists selected to submit full proposals for funding through the Indiana University Grand Challenges Program, the most ambitious research program in the university's history.

"The Grand Challenges Program offers a unique and exciting opportunity for IU to lead the way in developing responses to our society's most complex and important problems," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. | Photo By Indiana University

The program, launched in September, will invest up to $300 million over five years to address some of the most urgent challenges facing Indiana and the world. The finalists were selected from 21 teams of IU faculty members that submitted preliminary proposals in November. Applicants represented 20 schools on five IU campuses across the state.

Selected as a finalist, IUSM's Precision Medicine Initiative has three main goals: 

  • To integrate genomic and personalized medicine into IUSM clinical practices to provide innovative health care to the people of Indiana
  • To build expertise and resources to design, develop, and lead clinical implementation of cell- and gene-therapies for select diseases
  • To create discovery programs in molecular therapeutics with academic and commercial partners

"We are pleased that our precision medicine proposal has been selected as a Grand Challenges finalist, which is a result of the hard work that many of our IU School of Medicine colleagues have put into this project," said Dean Jay Hess, M.D., Ph.D. "The next step is to develop the specific plans for this initiative, which we believe would bring enormous benefits to the health of the people of Indiana and beyond."

"The Grand Challenges Program is an opportunity to integrate our strengths in genomics, personalized medicine, and clinical care and take them to new levels of expertise in research and broadly transform patient care," said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., executive associate dean for research affairs. 

All preliminary proposals were evaluated by a faculty review committee, which recommended a subset for further consideration to IU President Michael A. McRobbie, who named the five selected for development into full proposals.

"The Grand Challenges Program offers a unique and exciting opportunity for IU to lead the way in developing responses to our society's most complex and important problems," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "The number of faculty members who participated in the preliminary proposals we received strongly reflects our faculty’s commitment to transformative, innovative, and interdisciplinary research that benefits the people of Indiana, the nation, and the world."

IU Vice President for Research Fred Cate, whose office is overseeing the Grand Challenges Program, noted that all five proposals selected for further development focused on medicine or the environmental sciences and policy, which are recognized strengths of IU.

"While we received proposals from a wide variety of fields, these five proposals impressed the reviewers as not only strong in their own right but as addressing issues of particular importance to the people and economy of Indiana," Cate said. "Moreover, these proposals draw effectively on a wide range of strengths at IU, including not only health care and environmental science, but basic sciences, information technology, and public policy and management."

Over the next four months, Cate said, members of the Office of the Vice President for Research and other campus and university offices will work with the teams to develop the strongest proposals possible.

In addition to substantial financial support, the IU Grand Challenges Program will also provide up to 30 new faculty positions, as well as support for faculty startup needs, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, equipment and facilities for each funded proposal.

Full proposals from the finalists are due April 18, and McRobbie is expected to announce the one or two to be funded in June.

For more information on the five finalists, see the news release in the IUSM Newsroom.