Last updated: 04-28-2023

2020 NCATS ASPIRE Reduction-to-Practice Challenge Winners

NCATS is happy to announce the winners of the 2020 NCATS ASPIRE Reduction-to-Practice Challenge.
*According to the rules for these ASPIRE Design Challenges, non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents were not eligible to win a monetary prize (in whole or in part).

[Grand Prize Winner] Iterative Learning and Automated Modular Platform for Optimum Nonaddictive Analgesic Discovery

Gaurav Chopra
Ram Samudrala
R. Graham Cooks
Connor W. Coley
Panayotis K. Thanos
Jun-Xu Li

Purdue University
State University of New York (SUNY)
Purdue University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo

[Runner-up] Closed Loop Bio Assay-Chemputer for Next Generation Analgesics (BioChemputer)

Babak Esmaeli-Azad
Leroy Cronin
Sara I. Walker
Philip J. Kitson
S. Hessam M. Mehr
James Zapf
Evan Snyder
Larry H. Ellisman
Shaochen Chen

CiBots, Inc.
University of Glasgow
Arizona State University
University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
Visionary Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine
University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Diego

The NCATS ASPIRE Challenges are part of the of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative® to speed scientific solutions to the national opioid public health crisis. The overall goal of the NCATS ASPIRE Challenges is to reward and spur innovative and catalytic approaches towards solving the opioid crisis through development of: (1) novel chemistries; (2) data-mining and analysis tools and technologies; and (3) biological assays that will revolutionize discovery, development and pre-clinical testing of next generation, safer and non-addictive analgesics to treat pain, as well as new treatments for opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose.

The first phase of the challenges was completed in 2019 (for more details please see 2018 NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges). This prize competition included design challenges in four component areas: (1) Integrated Chemistry Database; (2) Electronic Synthetic Chemistry Portal; (3) Predictive Algorithms and (4) Biological Assays, as well as an additional challenge for a combined solution for two or more areas. In November 2020, the second phase, NCATS ASPIRE Reduction-to-Practice Challenge, was initiated. The goal of this Challenge is to combine the best solutions and develop a working platform that integrates the four component areas. The Reduction-to-Practice Challenge consists of three stages: (1) Planning; (2) Prototype Development and Milestone Delivery; and (3) Prototype Delivery, Independent Validation and Testing. The first stage of this Challenge required submission of a plan for the reduction-to-practice of a platform that integrates the four component areas into a comprehensive solution.

The circular ASPIRE infographic shows the key factors of speeding scientific solutions for the opioid public health crises. There are four component areas: novel chemistries and innovative technologies that will revolutionize discovery, development and pre-clinical testing of the other two component areas of better treatments and drugs for opioid use disorder. At the center are three states: planning, prototype development and milestone delivery; and prototype delivery, independent valuation and testing.

Credit: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

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Dobrila D. Rudnicki, Ph.D.