Progress on Theme 2: Innovative Instruments and Equipment to Accelerate Research Discoveries

Programs and Activities Highlights

  • Virtual Construction and Renovation Site Visits for Awarded C06/G20 Projects
    ORIP has held more than 44 final site visits virtually in 2022, covering more than 62 construction and renovation projects that are near the end of their 10- or 20‑year federal oversight periods. Information on overall impact, usage, and maintenance of grant-supported spaces is being reviewed. Most of these grant‑supported spaces continue to be used for the biomedical research proposed in their original applications

  • NIH Shared Instrumentation Grant Programs in 2022 NIH Annual Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Health Research Conference
    ORIP participation at the AANHPI Health Research Conference, held May 4–5, 2022, included a presentation on the impact of and funding opportunity announcements for the NIH Shared Instrumentation Programs

  • Modern Equipment for Shared-Use Biomedical Research Facilities: Advancing Research-Related Operations 
    A new equipment program through ORIP's Division of Construction and Instruments, announced under PAR-21-326 (Modern Equipment for Shared-use Biomedical Research Facilities: Advancing Research-Related Operations), was launched in fiscal year 2022. Applications received for this first round were reviewed in early March. Based on the applications received, a range of equipment designed to support operational innovations in both animal facilities and core laboratories was submitted. In the applicant pool, 50% requested animal caging, 20% requested miscellaneous equipment for animal facilities, and 30% requested support equipment for core laboratories. Applications came from a total of 37 states, including 12 Institutional Development Award states.

  • Instrumentation Grant Programs
    ORIP’s S10 Instrumentation Grant Programs support purchases of state-of-the-art commercially available instruments to enhance research of NIH-funded investigators. In fiscal year 2022, ORIP issued three funding opportunity announcements. These will be open for 3 years, with receipt dates in June each year.

    1. Basic Instrumentation Grant Program (BIG) – The BIG Program funds grant awards in the $25,000 to $250,000 range.
    2. Shared Instrumentation Grant Program (SIG) – The SIG Program funds grant awards in the $50,000 to $600,000 range.
    3. High-End Instrumentation Grant Program (HEI) – The HEI Program funds grant awards in the $600,001 to $2,000,000 range
  • Modern Equipment for Shared-Use Biomedical Research Facilities: Advancing Research-Related Operations
    ORIP’s Division of Construction and Instruments’ new equipment program was launched in fiscal year 2022 under PAR-21-326. Applications for the inaugural round were reviewed in early March 2022. Applications came from a total of 37 states, including 12 Institutional Development Award states (states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding). Applications covered a range of equipment designed to support operational innovations in both animal facilities and core labs, including animal caging, miscellaneous equipment for animal facilities, and support equipment for core laboratories.

Read more in the archive.

Research Highlights from Investigators Utilizing ORIP-Supported Instrumentation

  • Understanding the Computational Demands Underlying Visual Reasoning
    Comprehension of the complex visual relations between objects is necessary for visual reasoning. In this study, investigators sought to better understand the computational demands involved in this process. They systematically assessed the ability of modern deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to learn to solve the synthetic visual reasoning test (SVRT) challenge. They also extended the CNNs with spatial- and feature-based attention mechanisms and evaluated the ability of the networks to learn to solve the SVRT challenge. They found that the corresponding improvements on individual tasks partially explained their novel taxonomy. This work yields testable neuroscience predictions on differential needs, depending on the type of visual reasoning problem.

  • High-Fat Diet Causes Inferior Vertebral Structure and Function without Disc Degeneration in RAGE-KO Mice
    Back pain and spinal pathologies are associated with obesity in juveniles and adults, but the causal relationships associated with this effect are largely unknown. Using a RAGE-KO (receptor for advanced glycation end-products knockout) mouse model of both sexes, researchers examined the association between high-fat diet and structural and functional changes to vertebrae and intervertebral discs (IVDs). The high-fat diet resulted in inferior vertebral structure and function with some sex differences, no IVD degeneration, and few modifying effects of RAGE‑KO. These findings suggest that diet can affect spinal structures and might increase the risk for spinal injury and degeneration with aging and additional stressors.

  • A Vaccine Targeting Resistant Tumours by Dual T Cell Plus NK Cell Attack
    Most cancer vaccines target peptide antigens, and tumours frequently escape T cell–mediated immunity through mechanisms that interfere with peptide presentation. The investigators developed a new cancer vaccine that maintains efficacy against major histocompatibility complex class I–deficient tumours that are resistant to cytotoxic T cells through the coordinated action of NK (natural killer) cells and CD4+ T cells. The vaccine also inhibits the outgrowth of metastases following surgical removal of primary, highly metastatic tumours. These findings suggest that the new design enables protective immunity even against tumours with common escape mutations.

  • Matrisome Changes in Parkinson’s Disease
    Changes in the extracellular matrix proteins—known collectively as the matrisome—are associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Investigators analyzed proteomics data from the prefrontal cortex in patients with PD. They also performed histological analysis. Enrichment of type 1 collagen was found to be associated with PD in both experimental approaches. Additional findings suggest that protein-linked glycans and angiogenesis might play a role in PD. Histological studies can provide a complementary technique for future large-cohort studies of the matrisome. Additionally, this approach could be applied for selecting regions of interest for proteomic analysis.

  • Cryo-EM Structure of a Kinetically Trapped Dodecameric Portal Protein from the Pseudomonas-Phage PaP3
    Pseudomonas-phages have been recognized for their biomedical relevance, but few studies in this area have been performed to date. Investigators used cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) single-particle analysis to determine the near-anatomic structure of the portal protein of the Pseudomonas-phage PaP3. This structural analysis revealed that the portal exists as a dodecamer with helical symmetry, rather than rotational. This work established the structural repertoire of Pseudomonas-phage portals and could offer insight into the conformational dynamics of the portal barrel. Additionally, the investigators demonstrated the successful use of cryo-EM in exploring such macromolecular assemblies.

Read more in the archive.

Last updated: 11-29-2022