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ERACoSysMed - Collaboration on systems medicine funding to promote the implementation of systems biology approaches in clinical research and medical practice

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERACoSysMed (ERACoSysMed - Collaboration on systems medicine funding to promote the implementation of systems biology approaches in clinical research and medical practice)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2015-10-31

Systems medicine is a new approach which integrates biological and medical data with mathematical and computational modelling in order to understand the underlying mechanisms of disease and to develop new strategies for individualized diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Accordingly, systems medicine research provides a modern systems-based approach to medical practice and can fill the gap between experimental data produced by modern technologies and medical knowledge. In this regard, systems medicine will provide a new toolbox to medical researchers and clinicians.
The central aim of ERACoSysMed is to enhance the implementation of systems biology approaches in medical concepts, research and practice throughout Europe and Israel by structuring, coordinating and integrating national funding efforts. ERACoSysMed is a five year programme funded under the ERA-NET Cofund scheme in the H2020 Horizon programme. It comprises 15 funding and/or management organizations from 13 countries.
To achieve the main goal of ERACoSysMed the specific objectives defined are:
1) To implement systems medicine on long-term across Europe by supporting the systems medicine community in fostering inter- and multidisciplinary collaborations between clinicians, researchers, computational scientists and industrial partners.
2) To establish a network of funding bodies for systems medicine by contributing to the opening of the national programmes to international collaboration and to the improvement in Europe's research performance in the systems medicine field.
3) To implement joint transnational calls for research proposals and to fund and monitor these by funding bodies across Europe with the aim to push forward the desired paradigm shift towards systems medicine.
4) To provide a platform for the implementation of the actions guided by the systems medicine implementation strategy recommended by the CASyM roadmap that is based on a broad stakeholder consultation process which includes clinicians, scientists, funding and regulatory bodies and industry/SME. The interplay between ERACoSysMed and CASYM will support the formation of a coherent European approach for systems medicine which is driven by clinical needs.
In the reporting time period (month 1 – 10) the following main results have been achieved:

1) Management organizational structures
A consortium agreement (CA) has been prepared and signed by all partners before the signature of the grant agreement. The coordinator organized a kick-off meeting that took place in February 2015 in Berlin, Germany, to set up the management bodies. The Network Steering Committee (NSC) that encompasses the Call Steering Committee (CSC) as a subgroup represents the general decision-making level. The execution level is represented by the executive board (EB). In addition, a scientific advisory board (SAB) made up of high level experts from academia, industry, funding bodies and other stakeholders has been established.

2) Preparation and launch of the first co-funded call
The first joint transnational call, JTC-1, was published in February 2015 at the European level on the ERACoSysMed website and by EC means. In parallel, national calls for proposals have been launched according to national rules on websites and in journals in all participating countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain). The focus of the call was on so-called demonstrator projects that demonstrate the clinical utility of results from systems biology research in medical research and practice thereby fostering and expanding the new field of systems medicine. The proposals were evaluated in a two-step peer-review procedure performed by 22-23 international-renowned experts. In the first phase 45 eligible pre-proposals with 200 partners from 12 countries have been submitted. For the second step 34 proposals have been invited comprising 150 partners from 12 countries. Finally 9 projects with 46 partners from 11 countries with a budget of approximately 12.7 MEuro have been recommended for funding. This represents an overall success rate of 20%. The majority of the projects recommended for funding focus on Personalized therapy/Pharmaceutical development/New therapeutic targets. The start of the projects is expected in May 2016 –according to national regulations.

First steps for the preparation and implementation of the second call (JTC-2) have been already initiated. A workshop was held on September 23rd 2015 in Rome and questionnaires have been established in order to define call topics for JTC-2. The launch of JTC-2 is planned in December 2016.
The long term objective of the ERACoSysMed consortium is to contribute to the implementation of systems biology approaches in medical practice and clinical research according to the CASyM road map. Accordingly, the main result of ERACoSysMed will be the initiation and implementation of joint transnational calls for research proposals in the field of systems medicine with the aim to push forward the desired paradigm shift towards P4 medicine. With this, ERACoSysMed will have an impact on research policies in the field of system medicine at both European and national levels and on the research community. Moreover, ERACoSysMed represents best use of national and EU funding. Out of the 13 participating countries in ERACoSysMed, partners from 11 countries are involved in the first transnational call, JTC-1, with a budget of approximately 12.7 Mill Euro. Within JTC-1, projects have been recommended for funding that are defined as proof of concept success stories or so-called demonstrators in Systems Medicine to improve the understanding/utility of such approaches ensuring a successful implementation of Systems Medicine. In line with the road map of CASyM and in collaboration with the other European Initiatives relating to Systems Medicine, ERACoSysMed will support the processes of data generation, dissemination and exploitation.

To reinforce the cooperation and synergies between national and regional efforts and to strengthen networks and the systems medicine community in Europe, dedicated workshops, awareness events and the use of different communication channels such as a web hub for systems medicine as well as several instruments of publications and press releases have been performed or are envisaged. Most importantly, training activities and education programs to embed systems approaches are foreseen as well.

The monitoring of the ERACoSysMed activities will provide valuable feedback for national and transnational research policies. Analysis and assessment of the funded projects and the other activities performed by ERACoSysMed will represent an information source of the networking of the European systems medicine research groups. After finishing the ERACoSysMed activities, the degree to which participants contributed to establishing and strengthening durable cooperation between the partners and their national/regional research programmes will be seen. Depending on the outcome of ERACoSysMed, a more permanent framework of European countries in support on systems medicine might be considered. Another important final outcome will be the identification of new areas for clinical research to deliver improved preventative and personalized therapies and an increased knowledge of health and disease focused on improving clinical decision making.