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Name of Collaboratory :


Cell Migration Consortium (CMC)


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URL :  

Collaboratory Status :

Operational   Start Date : 2001 End Date : Info Last Updated : Sat, Dec 4 2010 7:01am PST

Primary Collaboratory Function :

  Distributed Research Center  

Secondary Collaboratory Functions :

  Community Data Systems  

Domain(s) :

  Cell and molecular Biology.
The Study of Cell Migration has important implications for cancer, congenital brain defects, arthritis, osteoporosis and other chronic inflammatory diseases. It also impacts emerging areas of biotechnology which focus on cell transplantation and manufacture of artificial tissues.

Brief Description of the Collaboratory :


The Cell Migration Consortium (CMC) started as an effort to address the complex and interdisciplinary nature of the field of cell migration research. Founded by Profs. Alan ìRickî Horwitz and J. Thomas Parsons in 2001, the CMC was created to address the ìbarriers to progressî in cell migration research that cannot be addressed adequately by individual investigators but rather require a multi-investigator, interdisciplinary collaborative approach in order to be overcome. The idea for such a collaborative group became a reality with the call for proposals from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) ìGlue Grantsî funding initiative.

The overall goal of the CMC is to generate novel reagents, technologies, and models and to organize information relevant to the field, rather than conducting individual investigative experiments or generating large amounts of data in high-throughput types of research. This non-hypothesis manner of working allows the CMC to focus on its field-spanning mandate of producing technologies, reagents and information for use by the cell migration community as a whole.

The CMC also serves to promote interactions among investigators in common areas as well as those working in various different subdisciplines and domains. This is achieved through a unique organizational structure where research is organized into seven highly collaborative, multi-disciplinary and multi-institution working groups or "initiatives". 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. Each initiative is focused on a particular "barrier" to research in the field of cell migration. In addition, the comprehensive, multipurpose Consortium web site is the major avenue for communication. All Initiatives use the website as a timely repository for Initiative activities, reagents, databases, protocols, and other relevant information pertinent to migration research.

Another objective of the CMC is the entry of new investigators into the field of migration research through collaborative research projects, meetings and web-based interactive activities. This is done with the aim of enabling new investigators to bring new approaches into the field.

While some intellectual property issues are being worked out, the general spirit of CMC activities is to make all data and reagents available to the community quickly, but responsibly. Thus, all reagents, materials, and data developed by the Consortium will be posted on the web site and made available to the community once descriptions are accepted for publication, if not before.
The Consortium's intellectual property policies are described here:

The general direction and management of the CMC is determined by an administrative structure that consists of an Administrative Core as well as a Steering Committee and an external Advisory Committee. The latter group meets at least once a year. The Steering Committee, which is made up of the core investigators and the leaders of each initiative, and the Advisory Committee provide advice to the principal investigators in the evaluation of progress, setting of annual milestones, allocation of resources, and changes in personnel and research direction.


Access to Instruments :


Access to Information Resources :

  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 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, through its collaboration with Nature Publishing Group, 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.

One of the aims of the project is to set up a bioinformatics database in order to share the information on the work done by the various Initiatives. The work that the Initiatives are focused on includes producing resources such as reagents, research tools, protocols, and biological materials to be used by other core labs and the migration community. The main avenue for the sharing and desemination of the data and information produced is envisioned to be the CMC's website. This can be seen in the organizational structure diagram of the CMC that appears in this entry. The main goals of the website are to:
- Organize information in the field
- Disseminate protocols, data, papers, links, & information
- Serve as a timely repository for Initiative activities, reagents, databases, protocols, and other relevant information pertinent to migration research.

The responsibility for organizing information and data for dessmination to the consortium and the outside research community rests on the Bioinformatics Core.

Access to People as Resources :

  The CMC is organized into highly collaborative, multi-disciplinary and multi-institution working groups or "Initiatives". Each Initiative is composed of multiple researchers from various domains and is focused on addressing a "barrier to progress" in cell migration research. Some of these "barriers" are being addressed by the CMC through the following initiatives;

- Protein Discovery
- Proteomics
- Structure
- Biosensor
- Modeling
- Imaging and Photomanipulation
- Bioinformatics Support
- Transgenic & Knockout Mice
- Biomaterials

This arrangement should foster a multi-pronged attack on the study of cell migration that will interface with the larger community of cell migration researchers.

An annual meeting/workshop is conducted to assess Consortium activities and progress as well as to provide investigators with a chance to interact with each other.

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.

Funding Agency or Sponsor :

United States Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Notes on Funding Agencies/Sponsors:
This project is funded under the NIGMS' "Glue Grant" initiative, which was developed to address the need for new mechanisms that would allow independently funded investigators to integrate their efforts to solve a major biomedical research problem. The funds are intended to provide the glue to bring the investigators together and to allow them to work in an interactive fashion.
NIGMS has provided an $8 million "glue grant" (for the first year of funding) to a consortium of basic scientists who will work to unlock the mysteries of cell movement. NIGMS anticipates spending a projected total of $38 million on the project over the course of 5 years.
The funds are awarded to the University of Virginia and distributed to each of the members by subcontracts.

Organizations with Funded Participants:
Organization name:
Approx # of participants:
Description of organization's role(s):
Yeshiva University
   Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Condeelis, John (Imaging & Photomanipulation)
Biosource International
Schaefer, Erik(Signaling Initiative - Consultant)
Burnham Institute
Hanein, Dorit(Structure) Liddington, Robert(Structure) Volkmann, Niels(Structure)
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Stein, Lincoln(Bioinformatics Core)
Northwestern University
   Feinberg School of Medicine
Borisy, Gary(Structure)
Florida State University
Taylor, Kenneth(Structure)
Harvard University
   Harvard Medical School
Brugge, Joan(Protein Discovery)
Johns Hopkins University
Montell, Denise(Protein Discovery)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Gertler, Frank(Transgenic & Knockout Mouse) Griffith, Linda(Biomaterials Facility) Hynes, Richard(Trangenic & Knockout Mouse) Imperiali, Barbara (Biosensor) Lauffenburger, Douglas(Modeling)
McGill University
Wiseman, Paul(Imaging & Photomanipulation - Consultant)
Nature Publishing Group (NPG)
Hannay, Timo (Information Dissemination)
University of Oxford
   Oxford Center for Molecular Sciences (OCMS)
Campbell, Iain(Structure)
Princeton University
Schwarzbauer, Jean (Discovery)
Scripps Research Institute
Danuser, Gaudenz (Modeling)
University of California, Davis (UCDavis)
Mogilner, Alex(Modeling)
University of California, Irvine
Gratton, Enrico (Imaging & Photomanipulation)
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Ginsberg, Mark (Proteomics), Klemke, Richard (Proteomics)
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Vale, Ron (Discovery)
University of Connecticut (UConn)
   University of Connecticut Health Center
Loew, Les(Modeling)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Bohn, Paul(Biomaterials Facility) Gratton, Enrico(Imaging & Photomanipulation) Mantulin, William(Imaging & Photomanipulation) Sligar, Steven(Biosensor)
University of North Carolina
   University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Burridge, Keith(Protein Discovery) Hahn, Klaus (Modeling) Jacobson, Kenneth(Imaging & Photomanipulation)
University of Virginia
Fox, Jay (Proteomics) Horwitz, Alan F(Imaging & Photomanipulation) Hunt, Donald (Proteomics) Parsons, Thomas J(Proteomics) Pearson, William(Data Analysis & Dissemination) Schwartz, Martin (Biosensor) Noakes, Hal(Administrative) Scott, Rowena(Administrative) Watson, Nikki(Administrative) Young, Eileen(Administrative)

Notes on Participants/Organizations:
37 Investigators from 16 Institutions who are organized into 7 Initiatives. Each Initiative has a distinctive research focus and output.

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.


Communications Technology Used :

  The Consortium utilizes a video and audio conferencing networks to provide convenient, real-time opportunities for data sharing and discussion among Consortium participants. Initiative teams interact through their communications network which supports video conferencing, data sharing, instant messaging, FTP data transfer, and teleconferencing capabilities.

Internet2-based H.323 videoconferencing technology from the VCON Corporation (VCON VIGO hardware, VCON Meeting Point Software and VCON Meeting MXM gatekeeper)


Technical Capabilities :

  Support for transition between synch and asynch
Directory of services/experts/resources
Synchronous object sharing
Data conferencing
Synchronous conversation
  Key Articles :  

Horwitz, A. R., Watson, N. & Parsons, J. T. (2002). Breaking barriers through collaboration: the example of the Cell Migration Consortium Genome Biology, 3(11), comment2011.1-2011.4.


Project-reported performance data :

  Images of the Collaboratory:  
Physical distribution of Cell Migration Consortium
organizational structure of CMC illustrating the centrality of the consortiums website to the organization.
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