Assessment of Physical Sciences and Engineering Advances in Life Sciences and Oncology (APHELION)
National Cancer Institute
Task 1: Selection of chair, panel members, and scientific advisors
Task 2: Finalize the travel itinerary including sites and hotels
April 30, 2013
Task 3: Fact-finding trip to Asia
June 1-8, 2013
Task 4: Draft site reports from study in Asia
Early to mid-July 2013
Task 5: Final workshop APHELION Asia
Task 6: Draft analytical report from study in Asia
Task 7: Final written report from study in Asia
February 1, 2014
Task 8: Financial Report
February 1, 2014
National Science Foundation
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
Final Report (pdf)
This document describes a plan for
the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Physical Sciences
– Oncology (OPSO) to participate in and co-sponsor a study
led by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct an
international Assessment of Physical sciences and Engineering advances
in Life sciences and Oncology (APHELION). The APHELION is aimed at
determining the status and trends of research and development whereby
physical sciences and engineering principles are being applied to
cancer research and oncology in leading laboratories and organizations
via an on-site peer review process in Europe and Asia. The NSF has an
existing contract with the World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC),
Inc. under which the study will be conducted.
The mission of the NCI is to conduct and foster cancer research; reviewing and approving grant-in-aid applications to support promising research projects on the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer; collecting, analyzing, and disseminating the results of cancer research conducted in the United States and in other countries; and providing training and instruction in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Over the years, NCI has evolved into the world's pre-eminent cancer research organization.
Under the leadership of the NCI Deputy Director, the Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI) coordinates several efforts both within and outside of NCI to carry-out its function of supporting timely execution and implementation of activities that have trans-NCI benefit. Within the NCI, the CSSI houses (1) The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Program Office; (2) Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research; (3) Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research; (4) Office of Physical Sciences-Oncology; (5) Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research; (6) Office of Cancer Genomics; (7) Knowledge Management and Special Projects Branch; (8) Center for Global Cancer Health Research. These offices support extramural research programs and lead standards and policy development initiatives with the goal of accelerating advances in biomedical technology and furthering the vision of personalized medicine.
The NCI Office of Physical Sciences-Oncology (OPSO) (1) serves as a nexus for the development and implementation of physical science-based initiatives to enable progress in cancer research for NCI and its integration across trans-NCI, trans-NIH, and inter-agency activities; (2) enables the development of discoveries and new fields of study based on the application of aspects of the physical sciences approaches to cancer research; (3) and facilitates the exploration of novel and innovative approaches to advance our understanding of the physical laws and principles that shape and govern the emergence and behavior of cancer at all scales.
The NSF has long had a role in maintaining the general health of science and education across a range of universities and other organizations and has been deeply involved in funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. Recently, the NSF and the NCI have collaborated on a funding opportunity titled Physical and Engineering Sciences in Oncology (PESO) Awards [also known as the Physical and Life Sciences Early Research (PLIER) Awards].
The rationale for the NCI OPSO participation
in the APHELION with NSF is based on the premise that significant
advances may be expected as the result of continued investments in
inter- and multi-disciplinary research at the intersection of the
engineering/physical sciences and the life sciences. The field of
cancer biology is one that has been dominated, historically, by
researchers with classical training in the basic and clinical life
sciences. More recently, the field has expanded to include physical and
engineering scientists, whose background and expertise are
complementary to those possessed by life scientists, leading to the
recognition that significant advancements in the fundamental
understanding of cancer diseases are possible through multidisciplinary
research that involves experts in chemistry, physics, materials
science, and manifold engineering disciplines. Emerging and burgeoning
opportunities for collaborative research at the intersection of the
physical/engineering sciences and the life sciences have been
identified through several NSF workshops over the past few years.
Furthermore, the NCI launched a program to bring new perspectives from
the physical sciences to cancer biology and oncology in 2009. The
Physical Sciences – Oncology Centers (PS-OCs) Program is in
its third year of implementation and the OPSO will use the study to
help develop relevant and novel funding concepts to further the mission
of the NCI. Specifically, the OPSO seek novel research concepts at the
interface of engineering/physical sciences and the life sciences with a
focus on advancing the fundamental understanding of cancer biology to
underpin translational research that promotes the prevention,
detection, and treatment of cancer diseases.
In 1971 President Nixon declared war on
cancer, and much effort has been invested in learning more about this
complex system of diseases, and in developing treatments. However,
despite considerable progress in treatment of certain forms of cancer,
progress in reducing its mortality by conventional biomedical
approaches is disappointing. Thus, in addition to new biomedical
approaches, such as those based on the human genome, some researchers
are using concepts from the physical sciences. In the U.S. much of the
research that applies physical sciences and engineering concepts to
cancer biology and oncology is supported by the Office of Physical
Sciences – Oncology (OPSO) at the National Cancer Institute.
The OPSO is exploring innovative new approaches to better understand
and control cancer by encouraging the convergence of the physical
sciences with cancer biology and oncology. Building on stunning
progress in the molecular sciences, it supports new research themes
based on the application of physical sciences concepts and approaches
to the major barriers in cancer reearch.
Examples of concepts being explored by the OPSO through its Physical Sciences – Oncology Centers (PS-OCs) Program are: (1) Applying physics and engineering laws and principles to cancer by defining the role of thermodynamics and mechanics in metastasis and determining how this knowledge might be employed in new intervention strategies; (2) Applying evolution and evolutionary theory to cancer by developing a comprehensive theoretical inclusive construct that would provide a foundation for understanding and predicting cancer heterogeneity; (3) Applying information theory to cancer by pursuing theoretical and supportive experimental approaches that define what information is and how it is decoded and managed in terms of cell signaling and contextual information translation in cancer; and (4) Deconvoluting cancer’s complexity by pursuing theoretical and experimental approaches from the physical sciences to cancer complexity that will inform a new fundamental level of understanding of cancer that may facilitate prediction of viable pathways to develop novel interventions.
The NSF currently has an umbrella contract awarded to the World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC), Inc. to facilitate the assessment of research in engineering and science worldwide with the aim of maintaining U.S. leadership in these areas. WTEC is a non-profit research institute, which conducts international research assessment studies for the NSF, NIH, DOD, and other Federal agencies--more than 60 to date. Recent related studies include Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020, Brain-Computer Interfaces, Catalysis by Nanostructured Materials, Simulation-Based Engineering and Science, Rapid Vaccines Manufacturing, Tissue Engineering, and Systems Biology.
The objective of this joint study with the NCI OPSO and the NSF is to utilize an expert panel consisting of prominent scientists in the field of applying physical sciences and engineering perspectives/principles to oncology and other biomedical areas to conduct site visits at overseas institutions to conduct an international Assessment of PHysical sciences and Engineering advances in LIfe sciences and ONcology (APHELION). The findings of the APHELION will result in briefings to the sponsors, public workshops and a final report that will collectively provide a comprehensive, peer-reviewed set of evaluations of physical sciences-oncology research overseas in comparison to research being conducted in the United States.
This agreement is entered into under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 as amended (42 USC 1861 et seq, specifically 1873(f) and section 241A and 301 of the Public Health Services Act, as amended.
These authorizations for these agencies, together with the internal policies and procedures of each agency, define the authority of the agencies to enter Into this agreement and to manage this joint program focused on physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences or some combination of such the biological sciences.
SCOPE OF WORK
WTEC shall conduct the international assessment of the current status and the trends of the application of physical sciences and engineering concepts to cancer biology, oncology and other biomedical areas. The objectives of an international assessment would be to:
• Guide and justify U.S. research investments
• Look for good ideas abroad (technology transfer, improving U.S. programs)
• Look for opportunities for cooperation and collaboration
• Compare U.S. R&D with that abroad
The study panel, under the guidance of the sponsors, will be instrumental in helping to develop a definitive scope of the study. Among these objectives related to the proposed study are:
• Information Transfer in Cancer
and other Biomedical research areas through an Evolutionary Lens
o Can novel therapeutic strategies be developed based on increasing the genetic load of mutations in diseased cell population (e.g. cancer) that will lead to extinction of this population?
o What genetic and epigenetic features define a cancer stem cell?
o Do oncogenic mutations confer self-renewal to cells?
o What is a gene and how is it regulated in time and space?
• Time Domain of Cancer Metastasis
and other Diseases with Therapy
o Is the fluid phase biopsy of solid tumors an accurate real-time representation of the disease over the course of the patient’s lifetime?
o How does the heterogeneity of a tumor or other diseased tissue impact drug response?
• Mechanics in Health and Disease
o Is Mechano-therapy of disease such as cancer possible?
o “Follow the genes” is the dominant paradigm. Can we develop a complementary “follow the physics” approach?
o What is role of forces in cancer metastasis?
o Can lessons learned from the roles that cell and tissue mechanics play in developmental biology be applied to disease initiation and progression (e.g. in cancer)?
• Physical Parameters of Cells,
Microenvironment, and Host
o How does a cell change its genetic, epigenomic and metabolomic signature, as it becomes "successful" e.g. invasive, metastatic?
o How do physical cues derail a cell’s evolution into disease (e.g. cancer, heart, lung)?
o Can approaches used in tissue engineering such as decellularized tissues be used as in vitro or in vivo model systems to study disease (e.g. decellularized tumors to study cancer or metastasis)?
o Is the transport oncophysics of the microenvironment what really matters?
o What is the energy budget of a diseased cell (e.g. cancer) compared to a developing cell and a mature normal cell?
• Understanding Physical Emergent
Properties During Pathogenesis of Disease
o How can we change the physical microenvironment (selective pressures) to prevent cancer?
o Is cancer curable? Can it be controlled through manipulation of the microenvironment?
o Why do tumors ultimately make a phase transition to a metastatic phenotype?
o Could physical science tools be used to understand the molecular mechanisms of cellular collective behaviors in disease initiation and progression? The oscillatory dynamics? Pattern formation? Instability and fluctuations of biological phenomena?
• Heart and Lung Disease
– Connections to Cancer
o What are the effects of shear stress from blood flow on the development of cardiovascular disease? How do patterns of shear stress, flow, and flow rates affect cell movement throughout the circulation?
o What are the effects of pressure on lung epithelium in health and disease? Do changes in lung pressure affect cancer metastasis to the lung?
o Can computational models of flow patterns of circulating tumor cells be used to predict sites of cancer metastasis?
The above list of topics will be refined by the panel members in consultation with the sponsors at the study kick-off meeting.
WTEC, in consultation with study sponsors, shall select a panel of six (6) U.S. experts (including the panel chair) in the field, who are familiar with international activities in the field. The panel chair shall have sufficient stature in this field to command respect in recruitment of panelists, and make presentations of results to peers. The chair also will have the necessary skills at leading a panel to efficiently conduct the study.
The Contractor shall organize a sponsor meeting to be held in the Washington, DC metro area in January/February 2012 at which interested sponsors will attend along with the panel chair if they are available.
After the sponsor meeting, the Contractor shall organize a kick-off meeting to be held in the Washington, DC metro area in February 2012 at which the expert panel, any scientific advisors, and interested sponsors will attend. At the kick-off meeting, the chair will define the scope of the study (with guidance from all of the agency sponsors) and assign each panelist a section of the final report. During the preliminary study, WTEC shall assist the panelists by conducting electronic literature searches. Password protected and public Web sites will be maintained by the WTEC during the study to facilitate the work of the panel.
WTEC shall organize a fact-finding trip to Europe for the panel to visit centers of excellence in physical sciences and engineering for oncology and other biomedical areas. The sites will include sponsoring organizations, as well as top labs. Government observers will accompany the expert panel, to assist and gather information first hand.
WTEC shall provide template site visit reports for each site visited to the study panel members and obtain draft site visit reports from the panel by July 2012.
WTEC shall organize a workshop in the Washington, DC area for the presentation of the results in a timely fashion such that the final report may be produced in August 2012. Approximately 50 key participants from government and the private sector would be expected to attend a one-day discussion of the results. Each panelist will make a 30-minute presentation with visual aids, and the chair will give an overall summary. The workshop will be webcast to broaden its dissemination, including posting of the video for at least three years.
WTEC shall provide a template analytical report to the study panel members and obtain a comprehensive draft analytical report from the panel by the beginning of August 2012.
WTEC shall produce a final written report in August 2012, print and distribute 100 B&W bound hardcopies to study participants, hosts, and sponsors, and post the full report in color on the WTEC website.
If sufficient funds are available to conduct a subsequent study in another continent, WTEC shall organize a fact-finding trip to Asia in the spring or early summer of 2013 with a second final written report that shall be produced no later than August 2013.
The schedule for the study will be determined at the kick-off meeting by mutual agreement of the sponsors, the WTEC staff, and the panel members. However, the first phase of the timeline shall be driven by a report deadline of August 1, 2012 for study that will be conducted in Europe.
Task 1: Selection of chair, panel members, and scientific advisors | January 2012
Task 2: Sponsor Meeting | February 2012
Task 3: Kick-off Meeting | March 2012
Task 4: Fact-finding trip to Europe | June 2012
Task 5: Draft site reports from study in Europe | July 2012
Task 6: Final workshop phase | 1 July 2012
Task 7: Draft analytical report from study in Europe | August 2012
Task 8: Final written report from study in Europe | August 2012
Task 9: Fact-finding trip to Asia (if
sufficient funds allow) | May 2013
Draft site reports from study in Asia | June 2013
Final workshop phase | 2 July 2013
Draft analytical report from study in Asia | July 2013
Final written report from study in Asia | August 2013
- Paul Janmey
University of Pennsylvania
- Sharon Gerecht
Johns Hopkins University
- Ross D. Levine
- Parag Mallick
- Owen McCarty
Oregon Health & Science University
- Lance L.
Harvard Medical School
- Cynthia Reinhart-King ,
Antonio Tito Fojo
Medical Oncology Branch and Affiliates
John Hopkin's University
IMPORTANT LINKSYou are logged onto the Private Site.
The APHELION Asia sites visits will be conducted June 3-7, 2013. The following sites will be visited:
--National University of Singapore (NUS)
--Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), A*Star
--Nanyang Technological University
--Institute of Biological Chemistry, Academia Sinica
--National Tsing Hua University
--East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST)
--Department of Biomedical Engineering, Peking University
--School of Physics, Peking University, Center for Theoretical Biology
--Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
--University of Hong Kong: Centre for Cancer Research
--University of HongKong: Department of Anatomy
--Hong Kong Baptist University, Center for Quantitative Systems Biology
--Osaka University, Laboratory of Cellular Dynamics
--The RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe
--RIKEN, Laboratory for Cellular Systems Modeling, Yokohama
--Kyoto University, Laboratory of Bioimaging and Cell Signaling
--Kyoto University, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences
--Kyoto University, Center for iPS Cell Research and Application
The APHELION Europe sites visits were conducted May 7-12, 2012. The following sites were visited:
--Institute Curie, Paris (Daniel Louvard et. al.)
--University of Paris Diderot (Francois Gallet et al.)
--Max Planck Institute (Dresden) (Guillaume Salbreux)
--Max Planck Institute (Gottingen) (Oskar Hallatschek)
--Technical University of Munich (Andreas Bausch et al.)
--University of Heidelberg (Joachim Spatz et al.)
--University of Leipzig (Josef Kas)
--University of Rostock (Adelinde Uhrmacher)
--University of Freiburg (Jens Timmer)
--The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) (Evgeny Gladilin et al.)
--University of Nurnberg-Erlangen (Ana Suncana Smith)
--Weizmann Institute (Sam Safran et al.)
--Technion University (Yoram Palti)
--Ben-Gurion University (Smadar Cohen)
--Novecure (Eilon Kirson)
-- University of Padua (Nicola Elvassore et al.)
--University of Milan (Stefano Zapperi)
--European Institute of Oncology (Alberto d'Onofrio)
--The Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht (Johan de Rooij)
--Radboud University Nijmegen (Peter Friedl et al.)
--The University of Leiden (Helmut Schiessel)
--University of Barcelona (Pere Roca-Cusachs et al.)
--University of Basque Country (Jose' M. G. Vilar)
--Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne (EPFL) (Jeffrey Hubbell et al.)
--University of Basel (Cora-Ann Schonenberger)
--Uppsala University (Karin Forsberg Nilsson et al.)
--The Royal Institute of Technology (Wouter van der Wijngaart et al.)