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IMAT Grantee Recognized by ALA for Ground-Breaking Innovation

Innovation Award Winner

Photo courtesy of the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA)

NCI's Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT) program is an OBBR-affiliated initiative that supports research projects aimed at accelerating the development of creative molecular analysis methods and tools to understand, prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. The IMAT Program only solicits and funds highly innovative, high-risk cancer relevant technology. By taking these risks on early-stage transformative tools, IMAT has contributed to many blockbuster technologies that are used universally across the cancer research and clinical communities.  The IMAT Program has funded many products which are now successfully commercialized, such as RNALater, Affymetrix gene chips, Illumina bead platforms, and Quantum dot labeling technology.  Each of these success stories were considered high-risk ideas at the time of their inception, however, their current widespread use and applicability to multiple clinical and basic research settings are a testament to the high payoff and impact that such transformative technologies have provided the field of cancer research.

The success of this program has been unrivaled with an astounding number of publications in peer reviewed literature, commercial applications, and patents. In addition, many of the investigators supported by IMAT have gone on to receive awards in recognition of their contribution to the field. Dr. James Landers, an IMAT grantee from 2006, is a prime example of how IMAT funding has stimulated rapid progress in the field of cancer research. The Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) presented Dr. Landers with the 2008 Innovation Award, including a $10,000 prize, for his novel Microfluid Genetic Analysis (MGA) technology which was initially funded through NCI's IMAT Program in 2006. His unique device resembles a common microscope slide, but it houses the analytical tools of an entire laboratory. His lab-on-a-chip technology may enable rapid detection of cancer and other infectious diseases in a fraction of the time and cost of current tests. IMAT will continue to fund this type of transformative technology and help uniquely bridge the gap between engineers, technologists, and cancer biologists to allow for integration of highly innovative technology into the cancer research community.

By Katie Christiansen