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Friday, May 13, 2016

AIRI Welcomes Louisiana Cancer Research Center to the AIRI Community

The ranks of AIRI institutes continue to grow in 2016.  This post is one of two this week to welcome new AIRI Members.

The Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC) was established in 2002 by the Louisiana State Legislature with the primary strategic objective of building a consortium cancer center worthy of such official designation by the National Cancer Institute. Their mission is to develop a coordinated cancer research and education program that will optimize discovery and development of innovative cancer therapies; lead to innovative clinical treatment programs offering new opportunities for early detection, treatment, and prevention of cancer in the region; and promote regional economic growth.
To carry out that mission, the LCRC brings together four research and medical powerhouses who contribute their unique strengths to the LCRC. Originating partners, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and Tulane University Health Sciences Center bring an extensive research and education base, with a strong depth of scientific knowledge.  Xavier University of Louisiana brings expertise in pharmacology, health disparities and minority health; and, Ochsner Health System adds depth to the clinical trials and medical framework needed to touch patients’ lives.
Their state of the art research building forms the nexus of cancer research in New Orleans and beyond. At the Research Center and at partnering institutions, researchers and clinicians come together to work toward:
  • Optimizing the discovery and development of innovative cancer therapies; leading to innovative clinical treatment programs that will offer new opportunities for early detection, treatment, and prevention of cancer, thus reducing the State's mortality rate.
  • Affording Louisiana citizens better access to comprehensive cancer care within their home state.
  • Fueling economic development by helping to attract talented faculty, federal grants, industrial partnerships, and by the creation of other lucrative employment opportunities.
  • Supporting the state's biotechnology initiatives by fostering integration and collaboration with other medical, research and biotech entities.
LCRC membership includes more than 200 researchers representing a strong inter-and-intradisciplinary activity across the member institutions supported by shared resource cores that foster laboratory, clinical and population sciences research.   Strengths include: molecular genetics and signaling; proteomics; immunology, infection and inflammation; viral oncology; drug discovery; and, minority health and health disparities.
According to Sven Davisson, Chief Administrative Officer and Acting President-CEO, “In addition to its basic and clinical research programs, the LCRC has a strong statewide community outreach and prevention education effort through The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living program.  Our vision is to address the needs of the people we serve and to win the fight against cancer. Our people are synergized by the diverse scientific breadth of the LCRC-member teams and the statewide response to our outreach initiatives and are poised to advance a research agenda and reach our goal”.
LCRC is the first AIRI institute in the State of Louisiana.  We warmly welcome them to the AIRI community.  Please visit their web site for more information:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

AIRI Welcomes OpenBiome to the AIRI Community

The ranks of AIRI institutes continue to grow in 2016.  This post is one of two this week to welcome new AIRI Members.

The Microbiome Health Research Institute, d.b.a. OpenBiome, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding safe access to fecal microbiota transplants (FMT), and catalyzing research into the human microbiome. Founded by a team of doctors, scientists and public health advocates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, OpenBiome has two primary objectives:

  • First, eliminate the practical barriers to fecal microbiota transplantation for patients suffering from recurrent C. difficile infection.

  • Second, enable translational research into the human microbiome.

(Map courtesy of Pratik Panchal)
Founded in 2012, OpenBiome is already having a nation-wide and world-wide impact, working with over 600 hospitals and clinics across all 50 U.S. states, and shipping treatments to countries internationally, including the UK, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands.  To date, their clinical program has provided over 12,000 treatments for use in FMT.  It is great to see an AIRI member institute effect such a powerful clinical impact.

OpenBiome’s impact on the field of microbiome research is equally impressive. In addition to supporting hundreds of FMT programs, OpenBiome is involved in 13 active clinical trials exploring applications of FMT for other diseases, such as Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, among others.  

According to James Burgess, Executive Director, “We believe that there are many opportunities to learn from the microbiome and apply these lessons to improve human health. We provide a range of services to unlock this potential. Our research services include providing tailored fecal microbiota preparations to bioinformatics and analytical services to regulatory support. We also provide assistance in clinical trial design and commission our own studies of exceptional interest”.

Located in Medford, Massachusetts, OpenBiome is the eighth AIRI institute in the State.  Please visit their website here:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Two AIRI Scientists to be Honored at the White House Today

I'm celebrating the fact that two AIRI Scientists, Dr. Courtney Miller of The Scripps Research Institute and Dr. Jennifer Lorvick of the Research Triangle Institute International, who were awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), two of 20 NIH-funded recipients, will be recognized at a White House ceremony today.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

AIRI Active in April

April was a very active month for AIRI's Board and for the execution of the AIRI IT Summit.

AIRI Summit

The fourth installment of the AIRI IT biannual meetings was held in Oklahoma City hosted by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF).  The format was changed to two full days in which the speakers and participants filled the time with informative and thought-provoking sessions.  

Attendance and vendor participation exceeded the budget targets due primarily to the superb work and organizational abilities of the Program Chairs, Brent Keck, OMRF, and Michael Newhouse, Stowers Institute.  Highlights included: an excellent presentation by Scott Pegg (Gladstone Institutes) on "Keeping Pace with the Technology of Science" that included a novel approach to "multi-vendor storage solutions"; the always popular IT Survey results and discussion of Charge-backs were provided by Frank Dwyer (Salk); and consultant/vendor presentations were offered on Unix Power Tools, a Storage Update, and Unified Communications (VOIP, etc.).  Colleagues from the University of Chicago demonstrated a novel research data-mining platform, David Gift from Internet2 discussed how that consortium can help research institutes accelerate research (and save money), and a Special Agent from the local FBI Office presented a sobering update on contemporary issues in Information Security.

Information sharing is a hallmark of AIRI.  That tradition continued as AIRI member panelists discussed, in a casual and interactive way, subjects including: Success Stories wherein IT partners with operational units in deploying applications; the use of collaboration platforms; and experiences in using electronic laboratory notebooks.  Special thanks to Hans-Erik Aronson (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory), Melanie Davis (Nobel Foundation), Michael Newhouse (Stowers) and Yate-Chin Yuan (City of Hope) for leading these discussions.

For a full description of the program and to access the presentations, please see:

AIRI Spring Board Meeting

AIRI's Board meets twice per year, once in the Spring (typically in Washington, D.C.) and again in the Fall at the Annual Meeting.  We decided that joining our IT colleagues in Oklahoma City for the Spring Board meeting would save both time and money.  Once again, OMRF stepped up to host the AIRI leadership.  Sincere thanks to Chip Morgan, Executive Vice President and COO, Dr. Stephen Prescott, President, and scores of OMRF staff for their gracious hospitality.

The Board and its working committees of volunteers are striving to provide meaningful programs and services to the membership, remain engaged in the issues and policies in Washington, and to support the institutes that are so vital to the Nation's research programs.

We now turn our attention to preparing for the AIRI 55th Annual Meeting, September11 - 14 at the PGA Resort and Hotel, West Palm Beach, Florida.  Please plan to join us!