The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in open session for its one hundred and seventy-third meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
Dr. Jon R. Lorsch, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. After an open session from 9:30 a.m. to 11:36 a.m., the closed session was held from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Darrin Akins, Ph.D. Celeste Berg, Ph.D. Squire J. Booker, Ph.D. Enrique M. De La Cruz, Ph.D.Peter J. Espenshade, Ph.D. Guy Padbury, Ph.D. Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D. Michael Summers, Ph.D. Cathy Wu, Ph.D. John Younger, M.D., M.S.
Cecilia P. Chung, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center Staff Physician Tennessee Valley Healthcare System US Department of Veterans Affairs Nashville, TN 37232-2681
Laura F. Gibson, Ph.D. Senior Associate Vice President for Research & Graduate Education Associate Dean for Research, School of Medicine Alexander B. Osborn Distinguished Professor Hematological MalignanciesWest Virginia University Morgantown, WV 26506
Danielle Li, Ph.D. Class of 1922 Career Development Professor Associate Professor MIT Loan School of Management Cambridge, MA 02142
Brian Munsky, Ph.D.Assistant Professor Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and School of Biomedical Engineering Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523
Amy Rosenzweig, Ph.D. Weinberg Family Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences Professor Departments of Molecular Biosciences and of Chemistry Northwestern University Evanston, IL 60208
Melanie Sanford, Ph.D. Moses Gomberg Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Council roster (available from NIGMS)
Not tracked because this was a virtual conference.
Dr. Lorsch thanked the regular members of the Council who were attending remotely and introduced the special consultants. He then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.
The minutes of the January 16, 2020, meeting were approved as submitted.
The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:
NIGMS Director’s Report Slides [PDF 3.7MB]
NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch thanked the NAGMS Council and NIGMS staff for accommodating a first-ever all-virtual meeting and welcomed new Council members. Dr. Lorsch also acknowledged NIGMS staff departures, new hires, and promotions, including the reassignment of Dr. Darren Sledjeski as deputy director, Division of Extramural Activities, who oversees Council meeting preparations. Dr. Lorsch announced the recent hiring of Dr. John Ngai as director of NIH’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. He next described NIH and NIGMS responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include
accommodations for grantees to pay trainees and staff while in stay-at-home status and enabling grantees to donate personal protective equipment and other supplies. NIH/NIGMS is accepting
late applications for NIGMS-specific FOAs with due dates in May 2020 and extending early-stage investigator (ESI) eligibilities. NIGMS is also funding competitive revision
administrative supplements for COVID-19 research (such as infectious disease modeling research and repurposing developmental therapeutics or diagnostics originally targeted for other indications). Dr. Lorsch pointed to a critical need for modeling research in general, to improve access to data and to inform development and testing of modeling techniques. He highlighted the NIGMS-funded
MIDAS Coordination Center as central to considering and managing many of these issues. Dr. Lorsch noted the Institute’s online offerings, including a new
webinar series for the training community, resources for scientists at all career levels, and various virtual learning
STEM educational resources. He reported that the FY 2019 NIGMS research project grant success rate was over 30%, with a record number of ESIs funded, prompting Council’s suggestions to continue to assess qualitative and quantitative measures related to this population’s career progression over time.
Contact: Dr. Jon Lorsch,
2020 represents the fifth and final year of the current NIGMS Strategic Plan, and the Institute has begun the process of developing a strategic plan for 2021-2025. Council reviewed the draft framework of broad goals and objectives:
Some of the goals are continuations from the current plan while others represent modifications or additions of goals and objectives. Council feedback yielded discussion and a few specific comments: Consider wording of Goal 1 (“optimize” rather than “maximize”) and a more explicit focus on evaluation. Dr. Lorsch noted that the current document is an early framework, and that comments will be used to help shape future versions of both this framework and the ensuing plan. A request for information will be released for public comment in the next few weeks.
At the January NAGMS Council meeting, a working group of Council presented their
evaluation of the SCORE program. In response, Dr. Ming Lei, director of the Institute’s Division for Research Capacity Building, presented a plan to implement the working group’s recommendations. Going forward, NIGMS intends to highlight institutional research capacity building and student participation in quality research as important program objectives. Dr. Lei noted a key activity planned is a rebranding/renaming of the program to the Develop Academic Research Excellence (DARE) Award, to align with the program’s revised focus on developing research excellence: a shift from its current emphasis on competitiveness. NIGMS will redesign the current SCORE funding mechanisms as well as support a resource center to expand participation by eligible institutions and develop an evaluation plan.
Contacts: Dr. Ming Lei,
U-RISE is an institutional student development program. It is limited to applications from training programs at research-active institutions (i.e., those with a 3-year average of NIH research project grant funding less than $7.5 million total costs per year). This reissued concept clearance is for a revised U-RISE funding announcement containing minor administrative changes and an increased emphasis on promoting safety in the research training environment and teaching to the highest practices in biomedical research. Council voted and unanimously approved the concept.
Contact: Dr. Alison Gammie,
NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to developing the next generation of biomedical scientists through a variety of institutional training and diversity-enhancing programs including MARC, an institutional student development program that currently provides support to train undergraduates. This program is limited to applications from training programs at research-intensive institutions (i.e., those with a 3-year average of NIH research project grant funding equal to or above $7.5 million total costs per year). In FY 2019, NIGMS supported 569 undergraduate students at 54 institutions. This reissue of a revised MARC funding announcement contains minor administrative changes and an increased emphasis on promoting safety in the research training environment and teaching to the highest practices in biomedical research. Council voted and unanimously approved the concept.
The longstanding joint program between NIGMS and the Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) on mathematical biology (aka, the BioMath program) supports research projects where mathematics and statistics play essential roles in advancing the biological and biomedical sciences. Both DMS and NIGMS recognize and agree that when programmatic goals are compatible, coordinated management and funding of a program can have a synergistic effect on the level and scope of research, thereby leveraging the investments of both federal agencies. This reissue is a revised solicitation for the productive BioMath program, which will continue to support and promote research at the interface between mathematical and life sciences. Council voted and unanimously approved the concept.
Contact: Dr. Haluk Resat, firstname.lastname@example.org
NIH has a longstanding commitment to stimulate research at educational institutions that provide degrees for a significant number of the nation’s research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. The goals of the AREA program are to i) support small-scale research grants at institutions that do not receive substantial funding from NIH, ii) provide active biomedical research experiences primarily for undergraduate students, and iii) enhance the research environment at applicant institutions. AREA eligibility is limited to faculty with a primary appointment at a non-health professional school or college and to institutions that award baccalaureate science degrees and have received no more than $6 million per year of NIH support (total costs) in 4 of the last 7 fiscal years. This a reissue of a revised AREA funding announcement with no significant changes. Council voted and unanimously approved the concept.
Contact: Dr. Alexandra Ainsztein,
Dr. Erica Shugart, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology,
submitted written comments to NIGMS [PDF].
A summary of applications reviewed by the Council is available from NIGMS.
The meeting adjourned at 3:45 p.m. on May 21, 2020.
I hereby certify that to my knowledge the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete.
Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D. Chair National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council
Erica Brown, Ph.D. Executive Secretary National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council
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