In order to achieve its scientific goals, the MAIN Consortium will be based on four developmental Research Programs (Tool Development Program, Target Identification Program, Target Validation Program and Drug Development Program), three Support Facilities (Imaging, Proteomics and Microarrays) and one Core Facility (Bioinformatics), each coordinated by a Principal and a co-principal Investigator. The Programs comprising the scientific core are highly interconnected and conceived as a logical sequence of activities, each centered on a unifying objective and relatively homogeneous tasks.
Consortium research & development (R&D) projects are supported upon request based on the submission of "Work Packages" (visit ongoing workpackages) which include a concise yet fairly detailed plan for their integration as well as a list of deadlines and achievements that should be attained. R&D projects funded by the Consortium should be fully developed in a three-year period (except in special cases).
The Tool Development Program (TDI) will develop state of the art technological tools that are fundamental in making concrete scientific advancements in the field of cell migration. Some of these tools will be created and developed by the dedicated support facilities (see below), while others will require the specific expertise of one or more participating groups. The TDP should be viewed as a Research and Technology Development (RTD) Program, as we hope that it will both produce cutting edge technological approaches for the widespread use in the cell migration research community and refine existing technologies to make them appropriate for use in the cell migration field.
The Target Identification Program (TIP) will promote the identification and characterization of signaling pathways and/or molecular networks involved in defined aspects of inflammatory cell migration. This will be achieved by the implementation of joint research projects that will utilize pre-existing knowledge and technology as well as newly developed tools produced by the TDI on the basis of specific needs emerging from the participating investigators. Pathways/networks to be identified will either be known and require further characterization, or hypothesized based on previous knowledge (hypothesis-driven approach), or totally unknown and searched using holistic approaches.
The Target Validation Program (TVP) will conceive and develop the most highly interactive activities of the MAIN Consortium, applying the highest degree of integration within the network. Basically, targets (pathways/networks) identified in the TIP will be validated (whenever possible) by testing them across cellular models, healthy and diseased animal models, different inducing stimuli and manipulating conditions. The TVP aims at combining the results of the TDP and the TIP to provide a unified explanation of how multiple “inputs” received by inflammatory cells result in spatially and temporally coordinated “outputs”, as applied to cell migration and related biological processes occurring in chronically inflamed tissues. The TVP also aims at identifying the most promising targets to be further analyzed for potential use in drug development.
The Drug Development Program (DDP) will focus on selected target pathways/networks emerging from the TVP and will transfer them into a pipeline of drug development, using the premises of the biotechnological and pharmaceutical SMEs participating in this network. Targets to be developed in the DDP will enter a customized path involving high throughput screenings designed for rapid, target-specific analysis utilizing robotics to evaluate large compound libraries. Where needed, an assay development program will be established that uses both commercially available and proprietary biochemical and cell-based screening assays.
The three Support Facilities (Imaging, Micro arrays and Proteomics) will provide valuable technological support to the work of the developmental research programs. These Support Facilities are integral partners with the Research Programs in designing and executing strategies in overcoming specific barriers. In fact, the Facilities will not only provide facilitated access to existing technologies, but also pursue initiatives designed to push the technology of that facility to a new level. For this reason the Facilities will be coordinated and managed with the same overall structure as the Research Programs and the Facility Principal Investigator will work with the Program Leaders to ensure that the Facilities develop and provide the support technology required to accomplish the goals of the Research Programs. As active partners in some of the individual Research Programs’ initiatives, the Support Facilities Principal Investigators will participate in the Consortium's strategic meetings and communication activities of the Consortium.
The Bioinformatics Core Facility will have responsibility for organizing and disseminating information gathered by the Consortium both within and outside its boundaries. One of the central objectives of the Consortium is to concentrate and focus multiple experimental approaches on the highly integrated cellular process of cell migration. Thus, the Bioinformatics Core faces significant new challenges in collecting, organizing, and disseminating data, techniques, scientific findings and methodologies developed by the Consortium. Due to this core's central role in the Consortium, its Principal Investigator will participate in each of the Research Program Committees’ strategic meetings. This will ensure that the Principal Investigator of the Bioinformatics Core has direct access to, and knowledge of, the progress of each Program and can work with the Consortium Investigators to fully assimilate and share data and techniques generated by the individual Initiatives.
At a later stage in the proposal, according to the guidelines for the implementation of Networks of Excellence, additional programs requiring experts and staff to be recruited into the Consortium may be needed. Such future initiatives could include, for example, a Protein Structure Program and a Data Modeling Program.
|Bioinformatics and Databases|
|Meetings and Conferences|