ToxTrack Wins Two NCATS ASPIRE Awards, Part of the HEAL Initiative

Baltimore, MD – The National Center for Translational Sciences (NCATS) has awarded ToxTrack, Inc. two ASPIRE Design Challenge awards.  “We are very honored to receive these awards and are happy to support the objectives of the ASPIRE program, as well as the greater HEAL Initiative.  We hope our work within cheminformatics can not only help progress the research surrounding opioids and non-addictive analgesics but also optimize the process,” said Co-Founder & Lead Scientist Dr. Tom Luechtefeld.

The Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, was launched in 2018 to improve prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction and to enhance pain management.  More recently, the NIH announced that it had awarded $945 million in total in fiscal year 2019 through the HEAL Initiative. 


 A major research goal of the HEAL Initiative is the development of novel, non-addictive analgesics, as well as new treatments for opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose.  To that end, NCATS launched the “A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration” (ASPIRE) Design Challenges, which aim to accelerate the discovery and development of novel and effective treatments.


The ASPIRE Challenges were broken into five categories – each dedicated to a facet of an ideal platform for drug discovery: an integrated chemistry database, an electronic synthetic chemistry portal, predictive algorithms, and biological assays.  The final category was a combination of two or more facets. 

The only proposal team to be granted two awards, ToxTrack’s winning proposals are heavily influenced by their work within cheminformatics.  The proposal for an Integrated Chemistry Database is largely based on ToxTrack’s proprietary chemical search engine, and its derivative, Chemchart Enterprise.  Meanwhile, the proposal for Deep and Active Learning for Analgesics (DALA) predictive models leverages years of modeling research and experience, most recently highlighted in Toxicological Sciences.

“While databases and predictive models are obviously related, it means a lot to have our work and vision for both be independently validated,” explains Co-Founder and CTO, Dan Marsh.  “We think there is a lot of opportunity for computational methods to really inform the entire research progress and we look forward to working further with NCATS and the ASPIRE program.”

About ToxTrack

Located in Baltimore, ToxTrack develops cheminformatic technologies that empower industry, government, and academia to conduct chemical research and development in the most optimized manner -- easing the burden of laboratory testing, as well as increasing the accessibility and effectiveness of relevant data sources.  Both Dr. Luechtefeld and Mr. Marsh will be attending the NIH award ceremony on October 28th in Bethesda, MD.