Advisory Council Minutes – February 3, 2021

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in open session for its one hundred and seventy-fifth meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 3, 2021.

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 11:50 a.m., the closed session was held from 1 p.m. to 4:17 p.m.

Council Members Attending Remotely

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.
Laura F. Gibson, Ph.D.
Danielle Li, Ph.D.
Guy Padbury, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Amy Rosenzweig, Ph.D.
Melanie Sanford, Ph.D.
Pamela Stacks, Ph.D.
Michael Summers, Ph.D.
Cathy Wu, Ph.D.
John Younger, M.D.

Special Consultants Attending Remotely

Bethany Dumont, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
The Jackson Laboratory
Bar Harbor, ME 04609-1500

Sharona E. Gordon, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Dept. of Physiology & Biophysics
Seattle, WA 98195-7290

Lesilee S. Rose, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
College of Biological Sciences
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616

Jingru Sun, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Washington State University
Spokane, WA 99202

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Attending Remotely

Not tracked because this was a virtual conference.

Other Federal Employees Present



I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

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.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the September 17, 2020, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 20, 2021
September 9, 2021
February 3, 2022

IV. NIGMS Director's Report

NIGMS Director’s Report Slides [PDF]

NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch thanked the NAGMS Council and NIGMS staff for their continued service and recognized retiring Council members and incoming ad hoc participants. He also acknowledged NIGMS staff changes, including the retirement of NIGMS Deputy Director Dr. Judith H. Greenberg after 45 years of service to NIH (with two terms as NIGMS acting director), and the hiring of Dr. Dorothy Beckett as new director of the Division of Biophysics, Biomedical Technology, and Computational Biosciences. Dr. Lorsch then announced NIH leadership staff changes, including Dr. Francis S. Collins’ continued role as NIH director (a position he has held since 2009) and the nomination of Xavier Becerra, formerly attorney general of California, as HHS secretary. Dr. Lorsch congratulated longtime NIGMS grantee Dr. Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, on winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He alerted the Council about new COVID-19 resources including NIH’s COVID-19 website and an NIGMS COVID-19 webpage featuring information and resources related to the Institute’s response to the pandemic. Dr. Lorsch described NIH’s RADx-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program, which aims to 1) enhance COVID-19 testing among underserved and vulnerable populations across the country; 2) set up a consortium of community-engaged research projects; 3) strengthen available data on disparities in infection rates, disease progression, and outcomes; and 4) identify strategies to reduce these disparities in COVID-19 diagnostics. He then announced NIGMS’ continued efforts to promote a culture of safety in biomedical research training that featured an October 2020 perspective in Molecular Biology of the Cell and an NIGMS-sponsored webinar. He also highlighted the June 2020 webinar Starting Your Own Lab and follow-up videos. Dr. Lorsch reported Institute funding trends since 2015, showing that the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) now makes up an increasingly large share of NIGMS grants. Particularly, MIRA makes up the vast majority of awards to early-stage investigators. Dr. Lorsch also announced the first round of awards to a diverse set of scholars through the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) K99/R00 program.

Contact: Dr. Jon Lorsch,

V. Presentation: NIGMS Strategic Plan

NIGMS’ forward-looking strategic planning efforts guide the Institute’s investments via goals, objectives, implementation strategies, metrics, and targets. Dr. Richard Aragon, acting director of the Institute’s Division of Data Integration, Modeling, and Analytics, described the draft framework and timeline for development of the 2021-2025 NIGMS strategic plan that builds on both past strategic planning efforts and evaluation of Institute progress. He noted that the Institute’s objective for strategic planning is to shift organizational culture toward a more active/proactive form of management through the application of scientific principles to areas of organizational management. Dr. Aragon summarized stakeholder input during development of the current draft framework as mostly positive and supportive. The comments suggested overlaying cross-cutting themes related to 1) diversity, equity, and inclusion; 2) evaluation and iterative optimization of NIGMS programs and portfolios; and 3) transparency. After thoughtful discussion among Council members, he invited continued Council feedback on the plan, which is anticipated to publish in March 2021.

Contact: Dr. Richard Aragon,

VI. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Research to Understand and Inform Interventions That Promote the Research Careers of Individuals in the Biomedical Sciences

NIGMS has long encouraged the use of evidence-based practices to improve research training and career development. The Institute recognizes the need for hypothesis-driven research to test biomedical training, mentoring, and networking interventions across career stages and at a range of institution types for efficacy and replicability. For several years, NIGMS has supported research to grow this evidence base for effective, high-impact, scalable interventions, as well as to improve understanding of the factors involved in the advancement of individuals pursuing independent academic biomedical research careers. Dr. Alison Gammie requested and received Council approval to reissue a funding announcement for this area of investigation, which aims to move beyond participant satisfaction and self-evaluation toward also including outcomes as identifying factors and mechanisms most likely to influence and foster a sustained career in the biomedical research workforce.

Contact: Dr. Alison Gammie,


A summary of applications reviewed by the Council is available from NIGMS.


The meeting adjourned at 4:17 p.m. on February 3, 2021.


I hereby certify that to my knowledge the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete.


Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D.
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council


Erica Brown, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council