Advisory Council Minutes, May 18-19, 2006

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The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred thirty-first meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 18, 2006.

Dr. Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. After a closed session from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., the meeting was open to the public on May 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. It was followed by a second closed session from 4:00 p.m. May 18 through adjournment on May 19.

Council Members Present:

Francine D. Berman, Ph.D.
Shelagh M. Ferguson-Miller, Ph.D.
Stanley Fields, Ph.D.
Edwin S. Flores, Ph.D., J.D.
Kathleen M. Giacomini, Ph.D.
Eric N. Jacobsen, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Mason, Ph.D.
Brian W. Matthews, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Richard I. Morimoto, Ph.D.
Timothy O'Leary, M.D., Ph.D.
Lisa Staiano-Coico, Ph.D.
Paula Stephan, Ph.D.
Yu-li Wang, Ph.D.

Members Absent:

Gregory R. Reyes, M.D., Ph.D.
Theodora E. Joan Robinson, Ph.D.
Virginia A. Zakian, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present:

Bruce Bowerman, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Institute of Molecular Biology
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403

Michael D. Caldwell, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Wound Healing Program
Marshfield Clinic
Marshfield, MI 54449

Richard Cerione, Ph.D.
Goldwin Smith Professor
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Department of Molecular Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Julius H. Jackson, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Eaton E. Lattman, Ph.D.
Dean of Research and Graduate Education
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD 21218-2684

Denise Montell, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Chemistry
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21205

Richard A. Young, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Cambridge, MA 02142

Council roster (available from NIGMS).

Members of the Public Present:

Mr. Jeff Mervis, Science Magazine
Ms. Barbara Wanchisen, Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences

Federal Employees Present:

Dr. J. Ellis Bell, National Science Foundation
Dr. Carol Van Hartesveldt, National Science Foundation
Dr. Sally O'Connor, National Science Foundation

NIGMS employees and other NIH employees:

Please see the sign-in sheet (available from NIGMS).


I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

Dr. Berg thanked the regular members of the Council who were present and welcomed the new Council member: Tim O'Leary, M.D., Ph.D., the new ex officio member from the Veterans Administration. Dr. O'Leary is a physical chemist and pathologist and serves as director of Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development. Then Dr. Berg introduced the special consultants: Bruce Bowerman, Ph.D., professor of biology in the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon; Michael Caldwell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the wound healing program at the Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Minnesota; Richard Cerione, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell University; Julius Jackson, Ph.D., professor of microbiology at Michigan State University; Eaton Lattman, Ph.D., dean of research and graduate education and professor of biophysics at Johns Hopkins University (and former Council member); Denise Montell, Ph.D., professor of biological chemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Richard Young, Ph.D., professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (and this year's Stetten Lecturer on October 25, 2006 here at NIH). Then he introduced and welcomed the guests.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the January 26-27, 2006, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

September 14-15, 2006      Thursday-Friday
January 25-26, 2007            Thursday-Friday
May 17-18, 2007                   Thursday-Friday
September 10-11, 2007      Monday-Tuesday

IV. Report from the Director, NIGMS

Dr. Berg announced the appointment of Roger Glass, M.D., Ph.D., as director of the Fogarty International Center. Previously, he was chief of the Viral Gastroenteritis Section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Berg also announced that Sam Shekar, M.D., M.P.H., has been named director of the NIH Office of Extramural Programs. Before joining NIH, he directed the Health Resources and Services Administration's Center for Quality. Dr. Berg also announced the departure of Allen Spiegel, M.D., from the position of director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to become dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He noted that NIDDK deputy director Griffin Rodgers, M.D., is serving as the Institute's acting director.

Dr. Berg also noted that President Bush has nominated Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., to be the permanent commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and that David Brailer, M.D., Ph.D., has resigned his position as the HHS National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Dr. Berg commented on the activities related to examination of training programs for minority scientists across NIH. The working group of Council is examining programs within the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Division in NIGMS and another group examining and coordinating programs directed toward increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce across NIH. Dr. Berg co-chairs the latter with Dr. John Ruffin, director of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. He noted a recent seminar at NIGMS by Dr. Alan Peterfreund, one the principal investigators of an R01 grant awarded under the Efficacy of Interventions Promoting Entry into Research Careers initiative supported by NIGMS.

Dr. Berg also commented on a series of four NIGMS-sponsored lectures about Evolution and Medicine for the NIH community. Two of these lectures, on evolution and developmental biology and on evolution and education, had already taken place and were well-received.

Dr. Berg discussed the activities of the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) network, including the recent publication of two papers describing models for the United States and potential strategies for mitigating an influenza pandemic. He noted that these papers, combined with the grantees' earlier work, have captured the attention of colleagues in the Department of Health and Human Services as well as others throughout the government. The groups have been actively engaged in running models to inform the development of national and local preparedness plans for a potential pandemic.

Dr. Berg indicated that the "Compact Light Source," a new technology for generating intense, tunable X-rays, the development of which has been supported through SBIR grants, produced its first X-rays in March. He noted that Dr. Ron Ruth and his colleagues at Lyncean Technologies are now optimizing the output and should be in position to perform initial X-ray diffraction experiments.

Dr. Berg commented on the recent editorial in the Journal of Clinical Investigation titled "Rescuing the NIH before it is too late" that was highly critical of Dr. Zerhouni and several programs at NIH including those associated with the Roadmap. He noted that this editorial suffered from a number of flaws and all 27 institute and center directors signed a response that was recently published. He indicated that he hoped that the issues raised in these publications could be productively addressed through interactions between NIH staff and the scientific community through a variety of mechanisms.

Dr. Berg commented briefly on the status of the fiscal year 2007 budget and the processes that are underway regarding the fiscal year 2008 budget. He closed his comments with a short presentation about the new Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives that has been established within the Office of the Director.

V. Report: MORE Working Group

A working group of the NAGMS Council has continued to examine Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Division programs in an effort to optimize their effectiveness. Dr. Richard Morimoto of Northwestern University summarized the group's progress in refining its initial report, which was presented to the Council in January 2006. The report articulates specific recommendations to guide future use of MORE Division funds. MORE programs should focus primarily on training students and postdoctoral fellows, and should strive to increase the number of under-represented minority (URM) students with Ph.D.s, especially faculty at colleges and universities. MORE programs at non-research minority-serving institutions should be used mainly to support teaching and developing research competence at these schools. Finally, the Institute should increase awareness that MORE program funding can be accessed by all institutions that educate and train URM students. The working group expressed a desire for MORE program goals to be incorporated into all NIGMS divisions, and encouraged better evaluation of MORE programs and tracking of participants.

Presentation [PPT 67 KB]

Contact: Dr. Richard Morimoto,, 847-491-3714

VI. Concept ClearanceProgram: Announcement for NRSA T34 MARC Student Development Training Program

To adequately address the diverse health needs of the nation, increased numbers of well-trained underrepresented minorities are needed in the biomedical research community. NIGMS has long established a lead role in meeting this challenge through the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, which provides biomedical research training support to underrepresented minority students. Currently, however, the total number of MARC trainees receiving Ph.D.s is small relative to the national need.

Dr. Shawn Drew presented a plan to alter the MARC program to help strengthen the pipeline. According to the proposal, MARC programs are responsible for developing and enhancing the science and academic skills of MARC students. This could involve conducting pre-MARC activities for pre-freshmen, freshmen, and sophomore level students; and/or providing an interdisciplinary curriculum with a dual focus on the quantitative sciences and biology. Through an outcomes-based funding approach, NIGMS will focus on an applicant institution's past performance in sending students to Ph.D. programs, and the Institute will also encourage partnerships with existing T32 programs so that students can obtain mentored research experiences at competitive graduate programs. Dr. Drew requested, and received, Council approval for soliciting proposals for this modified MARC program.

Presentation [PPT 60KB]

Contact: Dr. Shawn Drew,, 301-594-3900

VII. Meeting Report: Need for a National Resource to Support Research in the Prediction of Protein/Ligand Interactions

Industry, academic and government scientists met at NIH in August 2005 to discuss protein/ligand interaction calculations for drug design and virtual screening. As presented by Dr. Catherine E. Peishoff of GlaxoSmithKline, the group concluded that the small number of data sets appropriate for validation and benchmarking is a major bottleneck to further algorithmic development and agreed that a well-designed combination of industry and government resources could dramatically and efficiently increase the number and availability of such datasets. A subcommittee assigned to develop an implementation plan met in February 2006 to identify specific tasks. It was proposed that a real or virtual Center combining the efforts of industry and academic partners with federal agencies (possibly including NIH intra- and extramural, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information) could efficiently and quickly generate a substantial improvement in the data available for enhancement of computer-based docking and virtual screening tools, and likely improve the success of computer-aided drug design efforts.

Contact: Dr. Janna Wehrle,, 301-594-0828

VIII. Update: Protein Structure Initiative Centers

The NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) was initiated in 2000 to develop high-throughput operation of protein production and structural determination, and to provide broad structural coverage of the proteome. Dr. John Norvell described the goals and successes of the initial, 5-year pilot phase and the subsequent, 5-year, production phase. The PSI production phase began in July 2005 with four large-scale centers that focus on structural coverage, and six specialized centers that focus on methodology and technology developments for the production and structural determination of challenging proteins. Dr. Guy Montelione, director of the Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium, described the large-scale centers' joint effort in target selection as well as his center's progress in establishing a high-throughput pipeline for production and structural determination. Dr. Wayne Hendrickson, director of the New York Consortium on Membrane Protein Structure (one of the specialized research centers) described the start-up of this center and his plans to make the production and structural determination of membrane proteins more successful, faster, and less expensive. As chairperson of the PSI Steering Committee, Dr. Hendrickson also presented a review of the recent activities of this committee.

Contacts: Dr. Wayne Hendrickson,, 212-305-3456; Dr. Guy Montelione,, 732-235-5321; Dr. John Norvell,, 301-594-0533

IX. Update: Administrative Extension and Competing Renewal of CMLD P50 Center Grants

High-throughput approaches have become standard for drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry and in academic chemical biology research. Ultimately, the success of this strategy depends on the availability of libraries spanning a wide swath of chemical structure space. However, the current number of relevant chemical methodologies limits both the potential structural diversity and quality of libraries that are produced using high-throughput approaches. To address this need, NIGMS developed the Centers of Excellence in Chemical Methodologies and Library Development (CMLD) initiative, which currently funds four centers. Council clearance for the initial phase of the CMLD initiative included a provision for a single, 5-year competing renewal of each center. Dr. John Schwab presented plans for a 1-year administrative extension of two of the center grants, to bring the four center grants into phase and simplify the review process. Several minor modifications were also proposed, including a requirement for diversification of the scientific focus of each center; a requirement that libraries be provided to the NIH Small Molecule Repository; and a modest increase in the maximum budget that may be requested. Dr. Schwab requested, and received, Council approval for the administrative extensions.

Contact: Dr. John Schwab,, 301-594-3827

X. Update: NIGMS Pre-Doctoral Training Guidelines

NIGMS periodically examines the goals, organization, and outcomes of its large predoctoral training grant programs through workshops, Council examination, meetings of program staff, and other evaluations. Dr. John Norvell summarized the most recent of these activities, the June 2005 "Innovations in NIGMS Research Training" workshop. The 15 scientists attending the workshop represented the disciplines and research training fields included in the Institute's ten NIGMS predoctoral training grant program areas. Workshop participants recommended no major changes to existing programs but did recommend an increased emphasis on several program features including quantitative training, exposure to research on human diseases, and interactive/collaborative training. Other recommendations include ensuring that applicants adequately address how the proposed training grant fits into the goals and design of one or more of the NIGMS training grant areas. Dr. Norvell described the new predoctoral training grant guidelines, which have been modified in response to the workshop's recommendations: Future applicants will be required to respond explicitly to questions in these guidelines that are designed to address these program modifications.

Contact: Dr. John Norvell,, 301-594-0533

XI. Concept Clearance: Predoctoral Training Program at the Behavioral Sciences-Biology Interface

In recent years, numerous reports from NIH and the National Academies of Science have concluded that researchers will need to integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives, methodologies, and levels of analysis in order to advance our understanding of health and disease. The need for integration between traditional fields in the behavioral and biological sciences came out repeatedly in discussions of the working group on basic behavioral and social sciences of the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH. Given this need for cross-training in the basic behavioral and biological sciences, NIGMS has taken the lead in developing a trans-NIH pre-doctoral training program centered on this interface. Although the topic area is different, this new program may be modeled after several successful interfacial training programs such as the NIGMS Chemistry-Biology Interface program. The proposed program will strongly encourage faculty involvement from multiple departments spanning the behavioral and biological sciences and will provide students with cross-training and thesis opportunities in both the behavioral and biological sciences. Dr. Alison Cole requested, and received, Council approval for issuing the program announcement, pending available funds.

Presentation [PPT 42 KB]

Contact: Dr. Alison Cole,, 301-594-3827


XIII. Review of Applications

A summary of applications reviewed by Council is attached (available from NIGMS).


The meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, May 19, 2006.


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

Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D.
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council

Ann A. Hagan, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council