The NIMML Institute Builds Upon the Successful Legacy of Transdisciplinary Science and Entrepreneurship of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute


Translating fundamental breakthroughs in immunology into safer, effective treatments for human disease

July 4, 2020

Dr. Bassaganya-Riera today announced the NIMML Institute is now a cutting-edge 501 (c)(3) nonprofit public charity organization focused on a transdisciplinary, team-science approach to precision medicine at the interface of immunology, inflammation, and metabolism.

The research Institute, located in Blacksburg, VA, builds on the legacy of success in transdisciplinary, problem-solving research of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, a pioneering biomedical research organization that secured hundreds of millions in competitive external funding in grants and contracts from Federal agencies, created hundreds of new jobs and made seminal advances in the field of bioinformatics and systems biology. The NIMML Team has dedicated over 20 years of experience in large-scale transdisciplinary projects dedicated to solving important societal problems by combining the expertise of immunologists, computational biologists, toxicologists, system biologists, modelers, medicinal chemists, translational researchers, and molecular biologists.

The central integrative theme of the NIMML Institute is the view of the immune system as a massively and dynamically interactive network. The NIMML Institute leverages the application of advanced computational methods such as artificial intelligence and computational modeling and systems biology approaches to unravel this complexity with the goal of accelerating the discovery and characterization of novel pathways to enable the development of new classes of therapeutics for autoimmune, infectious, and chronic inflammatory diseases.

“From its inception we have envisioned the NIMML Institute as a powerful and distinct engine of innovation and entrepreneurship. The NIMML team has contributed to establishing a thriving ecosystem of biotech companies that promote economic development and create new jobs. I’m excited that in its new format the NIMML Institute will continue catalyzing the translation of innovative scientific breakthroughs into improved technologies and highly successful biotech companies that address unmet patient or consumer needs,” said Dr. Bassaganya-Riera, Founding Director.

The NIMML Institute has a bench-to-bedside scope. Scientists are conducting fundamental research to elucidate basic immunological processes and identify cellular and molecular mechanisms of autoimmune and infectious diseases. New scientific breakthroughs stemming from this research are applied to the identification of therapeutic targets for the development of drugs that will address unmet clinical needs. The NIMML Institute team identified Lanthionine Synthetase C-Like 2 (LANCL2), a receptor that intersects with immune and metabolic pathways, exerts a powerful control over excessive inflammatory responses and provide sustained immune tolerance by favoring regulatory T cell responses. The discovery of the mechanisms of activation of the LANCL2 pathway served as basis for an R&D pipeline in the development of first-in-class small molecule therapeutics for autoimmune diseases. A global Phase 2 clinical trial for Ulcerative Colitis in 195 patients is currently ongoing in 12 countries and 53 clinical sites.

The NIMML was founded in 2002 under the guidance of Dr. Bassaganya-Riera and Dr. Raquel Hontecillas. The NIMML Institute is committed to transdisciplinary, team-science approaches with a precision medicine focus at the interface of immunology, inflammation, and metabolism. The NIMML research programs incorporate drug development, nutritional immunology, immunometabolism, computational immunology, and clinical and translational research in autoimmune, infectious, and chronic inflammatory diseases. The scope of NIMML’s research ranges from in silico and in vitro studies to mechanistic, translational and Phase 1-4 clinical trials.

The NIMML research has pioneered platforms applying high-throughput computational, experimental immunology techniques, and system biology approaches in translational immunology research and discovery. Through the NIAID-funded Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens under the Modeling Immunity for Biodefense (MIB) program, the NIMML applied advanced computational approaches to analyze high-dimensional, high-throughput -omics datasets, model and simulate human immunology systems and help immunologists conduct in silico experiments to develop a more mechanistic experimental design, validate hypotheses and save significant time and laboratory cost.

The NIMML Team has founded three award-winning companies (BioTherapeutics, Landos Biopharma, and Pervida) and led important large-scale scientific programs in immunology, infectious and autoimmune diseases, raising over $200 million in non-dilutive and equity financing rounds. Dr. Bassaganya-Riera was named 2017 Innovator of the Year and received the 2018 Research Excellence Award. As a renowned immunology researcher, he has published over 200 peer-reviewed publications and numerous books and book chapters. He holds 40 patents in immunology, infectious, and autoimmune disease treatment and secured funding for the first NIH/NIAID-funded immunology center at Virginia Tech: The $12 million Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens under the Modeling Immunity for Biodefense (MIB) program.

Josep Bassaganya-Riera received his DVM from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 1997 and a Ph.D. in 2000 in nutrition and immunology from Iowa State University and served as a scientist at the university from 1997 to 2002. He served as a Professor & Director at Virginia Tech from 2002 until 2020 when he resigned to pursue full time his entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities.

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About NIMML

The NIMML Institute is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit public charity foundation focused on a transdisciplinary, team-science approach to precision medicine at the interface of immunology, inflammation, and metabolism. The NIMML Institute team has led numerous large-scale transdisciplinary projects and is dedicated to solving important societal problems by combining the expertise of immunologists, computational biologists, toxicologists, modelers, translational researchers, and molecular biologists. The Institute is headquartered in Blacksburg, VA. For more information, please visit www.nimml.org or contact pio@nimml.org.