ITRAC on track and bridging gap between academic research and applied discovery

Jan 25, 2008

In a novel manner which gives new meaning to the word transformative, researchers from the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center are integrating some of the best practices of industry into the strengths of the academic research process to propel the development of innovative cancer treatments from the bench to the bedside.

The IU Simon Cancer Center has initiated the Translational Research Acceleration Collaboration (ITRAC) and is providing rapid response funding and expertise to speed early discoveries to improve patient care, solve perplexing treatment problems, and lead the way to future therapies.

Traditionally, external academic grant funding applications take nine to 12 months from time of submission to funding, if approved. With ITRAC, researchers can receive incremental funding in a fraction of that time.

"ITRAC also helps investigators form research teams and break down silos that are naturally found in any research environment,” said Mark Kelley, Ph.D., associate director for basic science research at the IU Simon Cancer Center. "The ITRAC process requires that research teams, including basic and clinical scientists, work together to speed the velocity of the science from the bench to the clinic as well as from the clinic back to the bench. With science becoming ever more complex, the formation of multi-disciplinary teams is the most effective and correct way to undertake complex problems in cancer prevention, detection, treatment and delivery.”

This initiative also helps investigators forge new collaborations, share costly resources such as reagents, and develop interactions internally and externally. To date, ITRAC has supported collaborators from the Purdue Cancer Center, the University of Notre Dame’s Walther Cancer Research Center and the IU Simon Cancer Center.

According to Dr. Kelley, the ITRAC process requires greater accountability by researchers of how funds are used and careful scrutiny of the outcomes. Only research with the greatest patient impact potential is supported.

David Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads, the state’s initiative to develop the life sciences, said he’s not aware of any other university using ITRAC’s approach to translate discovery into action.

“It’s revolutionary,” Johnson said. “Although it’s in an academic environment, ITRAC tries to bridge the gap between the traditional – the pure discovery domain of academic research – and the very applied discovery domain of corporate research and development. It’s an approach that says we’re going to borrow some of the project management processes that organize corporate research and focus more specifically on outcomes.”

Leaders at the IU Simon Cancer Center approached BioCrossroads for insights into project management practices used in the corporate world.

In addition to grant money, ITRAC helps researchers map out their projects, and it provides expertise to scientists who have made significant discoveries in their labs but aren’t sure what steps are necessary to turn those discoveries into products that will improve patient care. This decreases the amount of time the scientists have to spend running around trying to find out how to accomplish the next step in their projects.

The program complements a growing emphasis by the National Institutes of Health on accelerating the development and testing processes that basic science laboratory discoveries go through to become new patient treatments. One of the major goals of National Cancer Institute designated centers like the IU Simon Cancer Center is to increase translational initiatives.

IU Simon Cancer Center committees review research projects and identify those with the most potential for clinical applications as well as commercial potential – potential that the individual scientists may not even realize is there.

Since its establishment in November 2006, ITRAC has mapped 73 projects, established and/or recommended 50 project collaborations, and identified numerous intellectual property needs.

“After little more than a year, an exciting benefit we are seeing is the identification of intellectual property, which, we hope, will continue to grow and dovetail with the growing emphasis in the state’s life sciences initiative and lead to more biotech startups and licensing opportunities and decrease the ‘brain drain’ from the state,” Kelley said. “Whatever it takes to help speed research findings to help cancer patients is what this initiative is all about."

Source: Indiana University

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

4 hours ago

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

5 hours ago

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

5 hours ago

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...