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About Us - Management & Organization

Composition of the Consortium

The Consortium is comprised of seven scientific Initiatives whose major charge is to develop technologies, reagents, structures, data, and models to overcome the “barriers to progress” for understanding cell migration. Each Initiative is populated by investigators and consultants who brings unique, but complementary, expertise to the Consortium and who are highly committed to interdisciplinary, collaborative research as a means to identify and penetrate barriers to progress in cell migration. The consultants provide needed expertise but are not funded by the Consortium.

Overall Organization of the Consortium

The management and administration of the Consortium are carried out by the Principal Investigator (PI), Alan Rick Horwitz, and the Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI), J. Thomas Parsons. The size, geographical diversity, and administrative complexities of the Consortium dictate some division in oversight. In this context, Tom Parsons oversees the administration of the budgetary aspects of the Consortium, while Rick Horwitz manages the scientific administration and oversight. While the PI is ultimately responsible for all decisions, they are made after consultation and thorough discussion with the co-PI. The PIs are assisted by an Associate Director, Nikki Watson, who is responsible for the daily functioning of the Consortium and supervision of the administrative staff. The Consortium’s web site, a monthly e-mail “Migration Memo”, direct e-mail contact, and the Annual Cell Migration Consortium meeting are the primary vehicles for transmission of information from the Consortium leadership to participants in the Consortium.

The monthly activities of the Consortium, including posting of data and information, news updates, perspectives, and published papers are posted on the Cell Migration web site. The Consortium has no “members only” internal site. This is to ensure that Consortium members do not derive an unfair advantage by early access to Consortium-generated data. The Consortium utilizes a video and audio conferencing networks to provide convenient, real-time opportunities for data sharing and discussion among Consortium participants. Each Initiative meets at least quarterly, many meet monthly; individual members meet more frequently for highly collaborative projects. The Associate Director and staff are responsible for the overall communication with the Initiatives, organizing the research meetings for the Initiatives, sending out the monthly “Migration Memo”, administration of subcontracts, and facilitating collection and deposition of data for the Consortium Web site, as well as organizing the Annual Cell Migration Meeting.

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Organization of the Initiatives

The heart of the Consortium is the group of “Initiatives”. Each Initiative is comprised of an Initiative Leader and a group of consortium members, and consultants (outlined in Framework). While all Consortium members participate in at least one Initiative, the collaborative interactions fostered during the first granting period have led to a growing number of members participating, on an ad hoc basis, in more than one Initiative. Membership in an Initiative is determined by a consensus of Initiative members with the approval of the PI or Co-PI. The Initiative Leader organizes and leads the efforts of the Initiative and serves as its scientific and budgetary liaison with the Steering Committee and PIs. Each Initiative meets to discuss research progress, evaluate current ongoing efforts, and discuss new activities. Individual members invariably communicate more frequently to discuss collaborative research projects.

Steering Committee: Responsibilities and Membership

The Consortium Steering Committee serves as the governing board that oversees Consortium activities. The Committee works with the PIs to assess progress and implement changes in direction or activities of the Consortium, recommends membership in the Consortium, evaluates progress and direction of the individual Initiatives within the Consortium, and addresses policy issues (including information dissemination, data sharing and intellectual property and conflict of interest). All major decisions are made in consultation with the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is comprised of the two PIs, the Initiative leaders, and additional members, to ensure a broad disciplinary representation that mirrors the scientific diversity of the Consortium. All have a deep commitment to the Consortium and its objectives. Appointments to the Steering Committee are made in consultation with the External Advisory Committee (EAC) and with the approval of NIGMS. The Steering Committee meets at least two times a year. It reviews the overall progress of the Consortium as a whole, discusses resource allocation, and addresses any other issues relating to the goals and/or objectives of the Consortium. Additional meetings of the Steering Committee are scheduled on an “as needed basis” to address important scientific, administrative, or fiscal matters. Steering Committee members meet with members of the EAC annually.

External Advisory Committee. Responsibilities and Membership

The External Advisory Committee provides advice on the overall scientific mission and direction of the Consortium. It helps to assess progress, establish plans, facilitates the integration of new science and technologies, and focus outreach efforts to the Migration Community. It recommends the addition, removal, or modification of Consortium activities. The Committee is comprised of outstanding scientists with broad perspectives in the scientific areas represented in the Consortium. Members are appointed for a renewable 5 year term by the Principal Investigator with advice from the Steering Committee and approval from NIGMS. The External Advisory Committee meets with members of the Steering Committee annually. Recommendations of the External Advisory Committee are conveyed to the NIGHS program official and to the Steering Committee for discussion.

Consortium Membership

The success of the Consortium in reaching its stated goals depends on the active and committed participation of the Consortium Investigators. These individuals have the responsibility for driving the research efforts of the Initiatives, providing new and cutting edge technology to meet the goals and objectives of each of the Initiatives, and developing data and analyses useful to the migration community. The Consortium Members have been chosen because of their record of successful collaboration, scientific innovation, and commitment to research in either migration and related fields or disciplines that show great promise to impact migration research. Our primary objective is to keep the Consortium collaborative, collegial, and of a manageable size. We also recognize the importance of bringing new approaches and technologies to the Consortium and understand that new barriers to understanding cell migration will emerge. Therefore, it is essential that membership be dynamic and we continually recruit new investigators who bring new approaches or expertise that will have a significant impact on Consortium activities and the migration field as a whole.

The primary mechanism for adding new members or consultants is a “bottom-up” process in which Consortium members identify and recommend individuals with exceptional expertise or accomplishments compatible with Consortium Initiative goals. A major criteria for inclusion is the expertise of the new investigator, vis a vis the promise a new approach, or technology to address Consortium goals, a record of outstanding science, and participation in collaborative research. The process begins at the level of the Initiative, with the identification of a need or an individual who promises a significant impact on their mission, and ends with approval by the Steering Committee and PIs. Generally, reallocated funds from previous years are used to provide limited support (for example, a post doc for 1-2 years). The PIs and the Steering Committee share the responsibility for evaluating how Consortium Investigators are contributing to Consortium activities. These situations become apparent in the annual review of the Initiatives, assessment and evaluation of yearly milestones and discussions with the External Advisory Committee. The decision to remove or eliminate a Project or remove an Investigator will be made by the PIs, following a formal review process, with the advice of the Initiative leader, the Steering committee (when appropriate), the NIGMS program director, and the External Advisory Committee. The procedures and criteria for interacting with the Consortium are posted on the Consortium Web Site.

Role of the Information Coordination & Dissemination Core in Consortium Activities

The Information Dissemination and Coordination Core is charged with the responsibility of organizing and disseminating information gathered by the Consortium to members of the Consortium and to the migration research community as a whole. One of the central objectives of the Core is to collect, organize and disseminate data, techniques, scientific findings, and methodologies developed by the Consortium. The comprehensive Consortium website is the major avenue for communication to the migration community. Every Initiative uses the web site to outline for the community its overall objectives, present and planned activities, policy on data sharing and release, the availability of reagents and technologies, protocols, software, and other Consortium products, links to Consortium publications, and databases that are useful and relevant to the Initiative and migration community. In addition, the Consortium Web site provides “one-stop shopping” for all of the important news relating to cell migration, including recent summaries, reviews and assessments of migration-related literature, and information on other ongoing migration-related activities inside and outside of the Consortium.

Coordination and Integration of Initiative Activities within the Consortium

Data, technologies, and other Consortium products are developed in the Initiatives, the interdisciplinary, collaborative groups that drive Consortium research. While the individuals who comprise the Initiatives generally reside at different institutions, they interact through our communications network which supports video conferencing, data sharing, instant messaging, FTP data transfer, and teleconferencing capabilities. All of the Initiatives meet at least quarterly and many meet monthly. At these meetings progress is presented and discussed, and plans are developed and coordinated, including discussion of data/information deposition on the Web site. Depending on the status of the project and nature of the collaboration, informal discussions among Initiative participants (or even between participants in other Initiatives) can occur weekly, daily or even several times a day. The members of the individual initiatives also meet one or more times a year at a national or international meeting (ASCB, Keystone, Gordon Conferences, etc.) for planning purposes.

The Annual Consortium Meeting also serves as a major vehicle for information transfer among Initiatives and individuals within the Consortium. At the meeting, overall Initiative progress in both oral and poster formats. Each Consortium member must bring at least one poster, presenting the details of their progress over the past year and plans/milestones for the upcoming year. A major part of the Annual Consortium meeting is the formal “breakout” session, at which members of individual Initiatives and other invited participants meet together for an extended period of time to plan and coordinate activities for the next year. The meeting is attended by all Consortium members, contributing professional research staff, Collaborators, Consultants, External Advisory Committee members, and other invited participants. Confidentiality is maintained by having non-Consortium members sign an appropriate Confidentiality Agreement.

There are several other venues for coordination and integration. The PIs write a monthly e-mail, “Migration Memo” to all Consortium members, which highlights Consortium activities, conveys administrative information and alerts to significant web site updates. Thus, it is a significant vehicle for integrating activities.

Coordination and Integration of Initiative Activities with the Migration Community

The Consortium web site and publications are the major vehicles for dissemination of Consortium products and activities to the migration community. Publication of primary articles brings our products directly to the community. The goals are to provide a one stop resource for the field, in its broadest definition, and a venue for the marketing and public access of Consortium products. This site has no entry hurdles, i.e., it does not require passwords, registration, or subscription fees. New Consortium products are highlighted in this section as well. Another part of the site contains descriptions of Consortium activities and their products. The web site has requests for suggestions from the community throughout its pages including the Initiative pages for the Consortium.

Consortium sponsored workshops are another vehicle for dissemination and community feedback. We will continue to sponsor focused workshops at major meetings like ASCB to bring together communities of Consortium and interested, non Consortium investigators. At these workshops consortium products will be presented and dialogue solicited for coordination and enabling of the community. Finally, products distributed through companies are heavily marketed by direct mailing and advertisement. Recent workshops are posted here.

Availability and Accessibility of Consortium generated Information

For the Consortium to be an effective contributor to the migration community, it must deliver its products to the community quickly and responsibly, i.e., after proper validation. In addition, it is important that Consortium members not derive a research advantage outside of their own efforts by belonging to the Consortium. We have approached this issue in several ways. First, the Consortium does not maintain a proprietary internal web site that shares Consortium data with only Consortium members. Second, as detailed in the Terms and Conditions of the award, the Web site outlines our Data Sharing and Intellectual Property Plan for sharing of Research Resources. Since the Consortium generates different classes of products, depending on initiative and activity, each Initiative has carefully developed a data release policy, which is posted on each initiative’s section of the CMC Activity Center. Detailed knowledge of products under development within the Consortium are restricted to the development team (the small group of collaborators that are involved in its development and validation) until public release, which coincides with its release to the Consortium. No Consortium member (or anyone else) outside the development team is allowed to use Consortium derived products prior to public release. In general, products are released upon acceptance for publication in a Journal. At this time the products are also announced and made available to the community, via posting on the Web site, and inclusion in the Consortium's updates which are highlighted in the Cell Migration Gateway's e-alerts. Products from various screens (RNAi screens, protein phosphorylations, etc.) are made available by posting on the Web site within 6 weeks of validation. For transgenic mice, progress is evaluated 1 year after characterization of the mouse begins. If progress is adequate, the information and mice or lines will be released to the public when the initial publication is accepted; if not the mice or lines can be released earlier. In general, plasmids and similar reagents are sent to interested parties, and software and specialized protocols are posted for downloading. For organic or other complex reagents, that are not renewable and require expensive syntheses or production, we post instructions for their manufacture and offer help to interested parties. For some, we seek a commercial collaborator for their distribution. In these ventures, the Consortium, as an entity, does not have any financial interest and royalties do not accrue to it. If the use of the reagents or technologies is difficult, in addition to posting protocols, we also offer advice and sponsor workshops. In all cases, the research on Consortium products is monitored by the PIs and Initiative Leaders to ensure that their development moves as quickly as the science allows.

In addition to the data release policies, each initiative and its component activities also have a statement on collaboration and coordination with the community. Again, these are Initiative specific. In general, we urge others to contact us with suggestions for new activities, reagents, etc. and to inform us if we are in competition or conflict with similar efforts outside the Consortium. When a potential conflict becomes apparent, we offer to collaborate, assist, or even terminate our work on the conflicting project.

Dissemination, coordination, and timely access are major agenda items for the Consortium at its Annual meeting and Steering and External Advisory Committee meetings. The External Advisory Committee is especially concerned about the views of the community and see themselves as their representatives; consequently, they are in a good position to offer insightful and useful advice on this aspect of our mission.

Milestones as a tool for Evaluation of Consortium Progress

The use of Milestones has evolved into a very important mechanism to assess progress within the Consortium Initiatives. Milestones are set annually by members of each Initiative as outcomes of the extensive “planning sessions” that are part of the Annual Consortium meeting. Once accepted by the Initiative Leader, these milestones form the basis for assessing annual progress which occurs at the Annual Consortium meeting. The final versions of the milestones are submitted to the PIs after the Annual meeting as an initial step in preparing subcontracts for the next fiscal year. The PI reads them to ensure that the annual milestones for each Consortium component are ambitious, but feasible, and are clearly focused. Once approved, the milestones are incorporated into the subcontract and provide the basis for the next year of work. Projects that are not progressing well are reviewed in more detail to determine the relevant issues, which are then discussed with the Consortium member and appropriate Initiative leader. If the project is deemed weak, it will be dropped from the Consortium. Similarly, projects that appear to have met their major goals will also be phased out. While the PI accepts responsibility for these decisions, they are made deliberately and in consultation with the Steering and External Advisory Committees.

Data Sharing and Intellectual Property Plan

Overview

The success of the Cell Migration Consortium rests on the ability of its members to share and disseminate information and intellectual property in a timely and efficient manner. To this end, the University of Virginia and participating institutions have implemented a plan that embraces the following principles:

  1. The Consortium supports an open, interactive and sharing relationship among Consortium members and the migration community.
  2. The Consortium seeks to minimize administrative delays related to management of intellectual property and proprietary interests.
  3. The Consortium seeks to facilitate and optimize the timely placement of research discoveries in the public domain.

I. Plan Summary

The results of research will be easily accessible to non-participating researchers and the public.

All Institutions will receive a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use all research tools, biological materials, source code to copyrightable software, and patent rights (collectively, “IP”) developed under the Consortium for academic research and teaching purposes. Reagents will be available to the entire community (not just the consortium), without restriction, for research purposes. Ownership of such IP will be determined in accordance with U.S. Law. All Institutions owning such IP (“Contributing Institutions”) may license research tools and their sole inventions as they see fit; the major Contributing Institution will lead licensing of joint inventions. The licensing of all IP will be subject to the terms of the NIH grant agreement, the appropriate NIH guidelines on the patenting and licensing of research tools, the Bayh-Dole Act and the written policies of the Contributing Institutions. Patenting costs and royalties from licensing of joint inventions will be shared among the Contributing Institutions, in proportion to their contribution.

II. Plan for Providing Access to Data and Information

Investigators are encouraged to freely share data and other information. The Consortium Steering Committee will ensure that no barriers to such free sharing of data and information exist, and will have each Institution execute a blanket confidentiality agreement to facilitate free and open communications. There will be no restrictions on publication of data and information. The Institutions will cooperate in filing Provisional U.S. Patent Applications prior to publication whenever possible. Such protection should limit the need for publication delays to only a few days, but in no case will such a delay extend more than thirty (30) days.

III. How Intellectual Property Rights Will Be Exercised

All Investigators will assign the legal interests in their inventions to their respective Institutions, in accordance with the terms of their employment. All inventions will be subject to a royalty free, non-exclusive license to all participating Institutions for academic research and teaching purposes. Such a royalty free non-exclusive license shall also apply to all software developed under the Consortium, but only to the extent that the respective Institution(s) is authorized to grant such license. IP solely owned by one Institution may be protected and licensed at the discretion of that Institution, subject to the requirements of the NIH grant agreement, the appropriate NIH guidelines, and the Bayh-Dole Act. IP owned jointly will also be subject to the foregoing requirements, and will be protected and licensed cooperatively as set forth below.

IV. Licensing of Joint IP

Investigators contributing to the conception of IP will reach a good-faith agreement among themselves regarding their relative contributions. The Institution that has made the greatest contribution will take primary responsibility for patenting and maintaining the intellectual property rights covering such IP. If no Institution made a largest contribution, the Primary Institution will be determined by agreement or by drawing lots. Intellectual Property counsel retained by such Primary Institution will communicate primarily with the Primary Institution, but will jointly represent all Contributing Institutions. For inventions, Counsel will be instructed to provide all Contributing Institutions with copies of patent office correspondence and to obtain approval from all Contributing Institutions for all material actions. Patenting costs and copyrighting costs will be shared among the Contributing Institutions in proportion to their agreed upon relative inventorship contributions. Any licenses for patent rights will provide for full reimbursement of past, present and future patenting costs. The Primary Institution will take initial responsibility for marketing and licensing the IP. If the Primary Institution does not license such IP within one year’s time, the next-greatest Contributing Institution may, at its option, assume the lead licensing role, and so on, until (i) the IP is licensed, or (ii) no Contributing Institution wishes to proceed further with licensing efforts. Prior to executing any agreement involving the IP, the Institution with the lead licensing role will provide a copy of the proposed license agreement to the other Contributing Institutions, and will obtain such parties’ approval. Upon approval by all Contributing Institutions, each will execute the proposed license agreement. All revenues received in consideration for licensing of the IP will be shared between the Contributing Institutions in proportion to their agreed-upon inventorship contributions. Each Contributing Institution will then share revenues with its Investigators in accordance with its own patent policy.

V. Settling Intellectual Property Disputes

The senior intellectual property officers of the Institutions, or their designees, will comprise an Intellectual Property Working Group, which provides “ad hoc” advice and guidance to the Consortium Steering Committee on intellectual property issues. This intellectual property plan will be interpreted in a manner that will best limit conflicts with the policies of the participating Institutions. Any disputes resulting from this agreement will be resolved by the Intellectual Property Working Group, subject to approval by the Consortium Steering Committee. If no resolution can be achieved by the Intellectual Property Working Group, the matter will be submitted to arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.

VI. Pre-existing Intellectual Property Rights

Applicants are unaware of any pre-existing intellectual property rights of any Institution that would impede or compromise the performance of this research program. In the event that any such rights are identified, the Institution owning such intellectual property will grant a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to the other Institutions, limited to carrying out this academic research program, to the extent that such grant would not be in conflict with the rights granted under pre-existing licenses.

VII. Dissemination of Technologies, Assays, and Assorted Reagents

Each Institution will receive a royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use research tools and biological materials for academic research and teaching purposes. The transfer of same between the Institutions will be governed by the Simple Letter Agreement for the Transfer of Material (as given in 64 FR 72090). Ownership of biological materials and research tools will follow U.S. Law, and owners may license such tools as they see fit, subject to the requirements set forth in Section III above. Reagents will be available to the entire community (not just the consortium), without restriction, for research purposes. Research tools and biological materials will be described in academic publications, and the Institutions will honor all reasonable requests for such materials from third parties. Such research tools and biological materials will be supplied under the above referenced Material Transfer Agreement. There will be no royalty charged for such materials when provided for academic research and teaching purposes, and any royalty charged for such materials when provided for commercial purposes will be reasonable.