David Wild, an associate professor of informatics and computing at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, has been named a winner of the 2019 National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ ASPIRE Design Challenge.
The ASPIRE—A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration—award, which is part of the Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, seeks to reward innovative approaches toward solving the opioid crisis by revolutionizing the discovery, development, and pre-clinical testing of next generation, safer, and non-addictive analgesics to treat pain. It also aims to create new treatments for opioid use disorder and overdose. Wild’s project, a collaboration with Purdue University Assistant Professor of Analytical and Physical Chemistry Gaurav Chopra, took home a prize in the “Integrated Chemistry Database for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose” category.
“The award will help us build an integrated chemistry knowledge graph that combines all sorts of different kinds of information together, including chemical structure, chemical and physical properties, and simulation and experimental data into a single framework,” Wild said. “The dataset will be primarily scoped to identify new insights into opioid abuse disorder and opioid overdose using connections that go across different kinds of data.”
The “Integrated Chemistry Database for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose” category aims to address the need for an open-source, controlled-access database that incorporates all currently available chemical, biological, and clinical data of known opioid and non-opioid based analgesics, drugs of abuse, and drugs used to treat drug abuse. Wild and Chopra provided a detailed description of the design of the database that not only focused on a single disease but also can be adapted for scalability and/or use for other disorders.
“I believe that integrative data science approaches such as knowledge graphs will be key to breakthroughs in medicine and healthcare over the next decade,” Wild said. “The Integrative Data Science Lab at IU is a pioneer in this area, and we were developing versions of what we now call knowledge graphs as early as 2008. This award demonstrates the NIH’s commitment to supporting this work in our labs at IU and Purdue.”
The NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges winners will be recognized during a ceremony at NIH Headquarters Oct. 28 in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Creating solutions for real-world problems is the main mission of SICE, and we’re thrilled David is playing a role in combating a critical issue,” said Raj Acharya, dean of SICE. “Our faculty prides itself on its innovative approaches, and this award is tangible proof that David’s work can be part of the solution to a challenging problem.”