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A key barrier to translation of biomedical research discoveries is a lack of understanding among scientists regarding the complexity and process of implementation. To address this challenge, the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps™ (I-Corps™) program trains researchers in entrepreneurship. We report results from the implementation of an I-Corps™ training program aimed at biomedical scientists from institutions funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).
National/regional instructors delivered 5-week I-Corps@NCATS short courses to 62 teams (150 individuals) across six institutions. Content included customer discovery, value proposition, and validating needs. Teams interviewed real-life customers and presented the value of innovations for specific end-users weekly, culminating in a “Finale” featuring their refined business thesis and business model canvas. Methodology was developed to evaluate the newly adapted program. National mixed-methods evaluation assessed program implementation, reach, effectiveness using observations of training delivery and surveys at Finale (n = 55 teams), and 3–12 months post-training (n = 34 teams).
Innovations related to medical devices (33%), drugs/biologics (20%), software applications (16%), and diagnostics (8%). An average of 24 interviews was conducted. Teams reported increased readiness for commercialization over time (83%, 9 months; 14%, 3 months). Thirty-nine percent met with institutional technology transfer to pursue licensing/patents and 24% pursued venture capital/investor funding following the short courses.
I-Corps@NCATS training provided the NCATS teams a rigorous and repeatable process to aid development of a business model based on customer needs. Outcomes of this pilot program support the expansion of I-Corps™ training to biomedical scientists for accelerating research translation.
The public health burden of alcohol is unevenly distributed across the life course, with levels of use, abuse, and dependence increasing across adolescence and peaking in early adulthood. Here, we leverage this temporal patterning to search for common genetic variants predicting developmental trajectories of alcohol consumption. Comparable psychiatric evaluations measuring alcohol consumption were collected in three longitudinal community samples (N = 2,126, obs = 12,166). Consumption-repeated measurements spanning adolescence and early adulthood were analyzed using linear mixed models, estimating individual consumption trajectories, which were then tested for association with Illumina 660W-Quad genotype data (866,099 SNPs after imputation and QC). Association results were combined across samples using standard meta-analysis methods. Four meta-analysis associations satisfied our pre-determined genome-wide significance criterion (FDR < 0.1) and six others met our ‘suggestive’ criterion (FDR <0.2). Genome-wide significant associations were highly biological plausible, including associations within GABA transporter 1, SLC6A1 (solute carrier family 6, member 1), and exonic hits in LOC100129340 (mitofusin-1-like). Pathway analyses elaborated single marker results, indicating significant enriched associations to intuitive biological mechanisms, including neurotransmission, xenobiotic pharmacodynamics, and nuclear hormone receptors (NHR). These findings underscore the value of combining longitudinal behavioral data and genome-wide genotype information in order to study developmental patterns and improve statistical power in genomic studies.
This study describes psychometric properties of the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB) Composite Scores in an adult sample. The NIHTB-CB was designed for use in epidemiologic studies and clinical trials for ages 3 to 85. A total of 268 self-described healthy adults were recruited at four university-based sites, using stratified sampling guidelines to target demographic variability for age (20–85 years), gender, education, and ethnicity. The NIHTB-CB contains seven computer-based instruments assessing five cognitive sub-domains: Language, Executive Function, Episodic Memory, Processing Speed, and Working Memory. Participants completed the NIHTB-CB, corresponding gold standard validation measures selected to tap the same cognitive abilities, and sociodemographic questionnaires. Three Composite Scores were derived for both the NIHTB-CB and gold standard batteries: “Crystallized Cognition Composite,” “Fluid Cognition Composite,” and “Total Cognition Composite” scores. NIHTB Composite Scores showed acceptable internal consistency (Cronbach’s alphas=0.84 Crystallized, 0.83 Fluid, 0.77 Total), excellent test–retest reliability (r: 0.86–0.92), strong convergent (r: 0.78–0.90) and discriminant (r: 0.19–0.39) validities versus gold standard composites, and expected age effects (r=0.18 crystallized, r=−0.68 fluid, r=−0.26 total). Significant relationships with self-reported prior school difficulties and current health status, employment, and presence of a disability provided evidence of external validity. The NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery Composite Scores have excellent reliability and validity, suggesting they can be used effectively in epidemiologic and clinical studies. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–11)
This study describes psychometric properties of the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB) executive function measures in an adult sample. The NIHTB-CB was designed for use in epidemiologic studies and clinical trials for ages 3 to 85. A total of 268 self-described healthy adults were recruited at four university-based sites, using stratified sampling guidelines to target demographic variability for age (20–85 years), gender, education and ethnicity. The NIHTB-CB contains two computer-based instruments assessing executive function: the Dimensional Change Card Sort (a measure of cognitive flexibility) and a flanker task (a measure of inhibitory control and selective attention). Participants completed the NIHTB-CB, corresponding gold standard convergent and discriminant measures, and sociodemographic questionnaires. A subset of participants (N=89) was retested 7 to 21 days later. Results reveal excellent sensitivity to age-related changes during adulthood, excellent test–retest reliability, and adequate to good convergent and discriminant validity. The NIH Toolbox EF measures can be used effectively in epidemiologic and clinical studies. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–10)
The List Sorting Working Memory Test was designed to assess working memory (WM) as part of the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery. List Sorting is a sequencing task requiring children and adults to sort and sequence stimuli that are presented visually and auditorily. Validation data are presented for 268 participants ages 20 to 85 years. A subset of participants (N=89) was retested 7 to 21 days later. As expected, the List Sorting Test had moderately high correlations with other measures of working memory and executive functioning (convergent validity) but a low correlation with a test of receptive vocabulary (discriminant validity). Furthermore, List Sorting demonstrates expected changes over the age span and has excellent test–retest reliability. Collectively, these results provide initial support for the construct validity of the List Sorting Working Memory Measure as a measure of working memory. However, the relationship between the List Sorting Test and general executive function has yet to be determined. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–12)
The NIH Toolbox (NIHTB) Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test was developed to assess processing speed within the NIHTB for the Assessment of Neurological Behavior and Function Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB). This study highlights validation data collected in adults ages 18–85 on this measure and reports descriptive data, test–retest reliability, construct validity, and preliminary work creating a composite index of processing speed. Results indicated good test–retest reliability. There was also evidence for both convergent and discriminant validity; the Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test demonstrated moderate significant correlations with other processing speed tests (i.e., WAIS-IV Coding, Symbol Search and Processing Speed Index), small significant correlations with measures of working memory (i.e., WAIS-IV Letter-Number Sequencing and PASAT), and non-significant correlations with a test of vocabulary comprehension (i.e., PPVT-IV). Finally, analyses comparing and combining scores on the NIHTB Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test with other measures of simple reaction time from the NIHTB-CB indicated that a Processing Speed Composite score performed better than any test examined in isolation. The NIHTB Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test exhibits several strengths: it is appropriate for use across the lifespan (ages, 3–85 years), it is short and easy to administer, and it has high construct validity. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–12)
This study introduces a special series on validity studies of the Cognition Battery (CB) from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Toolbox for the Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function (NIHTB) (Gershon, Wagster et al., 2013) in an adult sample. This first study in the series describes the sample, each of the seven instruments in the NIHTB-CB briefly, and the general approach to data analysis. Data are provided on test–retest reliability and practice effects, and raw scores (mean, standard deviation, range) are presented for each instrument and the gold standard instruments used to measure construct validity. Accompanying papers provide details on each instrument, including information about instrument development, psychometric properties, age and education effects on performance, and convergent and discriminant construct validity. One study in the series is devoted to a factor analysis of the NIHTB-CB in adults and another describes the psychometric properties of three composite scores derived from the individual measures representing fluid and crystallized abilities and their combination. The NIHTB-CB is designed to provide a brief, comprehensive, common set of measures to allow comparisons among disparate studies and to improve scientific communication. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–12)
The importance of including developmental and environmental measures in genetic studies of human pathology is widely acknowledged, but few empirical studies have been published. Barriers include the need for longitudinal studies that cover relevant developmental stages and for samples large enough to deal with the challenge of testing gene–environment–development interaction. A solution to some of these problems is to bring together existing data sets that have the necessary characteristics. As part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded Gene-Environment-Development Initiative, our goal is to identify exactly which genes, which environments, and which developmental transitions together predict the development of drug use and misuse. Four data sets were used of which common characteristics include (1) general population samples, including males and females; (2) repeated measures across adolescence and young adulthood; (3) assessment of nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis use and addiction; (4) measures of family and environmental risk; and (5) consent for genotyping DNA from blood or saliva. After quality controls, 2,962 individuals provided over 15,000 total observations. In the first gene–environment analyses, of alcohol misuse and stressful life events, some significant gene–environment and gene–development effects were identified. We conclude that in some circumstances, already collected data sets can be combined for gene–environment and gene–development analyses. This greatly reduces the cost and time needed for this type of research. However, care must be taken to ensure careful matching across studies and variables.