Advisory Council Minutes, September 9, 2021

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in open session for its one hundred and seventy-seventh meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 9, 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 9:00 a.m. to 12:41 p.m., the closed session was held from 1:40 p.m. to 4:03 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.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Amy Rosenzweig, Ph.D.
Melanie Sanford, Ph.D.
Pamela Stacks, Ph.D.
John Younger, M.D.

Special Consultants Attending Remotely

Breann L. Brown, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Nashville, TN 37232

Angela Byars-Winston, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Center for Women's Health
Madison, WI 53715

César de la Fuente, Ph.D.
Presidential Assistant Professor
Depts. of Bioengineering & Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Depts. of Microbiology and Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Russell DeBose-Boyd, Ph.D.
Beatrice and Miguel Elias Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science
Professor of Molecular Genetics
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas TX 75390

Angela DePace, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Harvard Medical School
Harvard University
Boston, MA 02115

Terri Goss Kinzy, Ph.D.
President
Professor of Biological Sciences
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-1000

David H. Mathews, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester, New York 14642

Donald Warne, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Indians Into Medicine & Public Health Programs
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Professor of Family and Community Medicine
School of Medicine and Health Sciences
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND 58202-9037

Wendy Young, Ph.D.
Executive Partner
MPM Capital
Brisbane, CA 94005

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Attending Remotely

Not tracked because this was a virtual conference.

Other Federal Employees Present

None

OPEN PORTION OF THE MEETING

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 May 20, 2021, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

February 3, 2022
May 19, 2022
September 15, 2022
Thursday
Thursday
Thursday

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report




​NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch thanked the NAGMS Council and NIGMS staff for their continued service, welcomed ad hoc Council members, and recognized retiring members. He also announced NIGMS and NIH staff changes, including, among others, the selection of Marie Bernard, M.D., as NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity, and the departure of Michael Gottesman, M.D., who is retiring from the position of NIH deputy director for intramural research after 28 years of service. Dr. Lorsch alerted the Council to two upcoming NIGMS lectures: the Judith H. Greenberg Early Career Investigator Lecture on September 29 and the Stetten Lecture on October 20. He reminded the Council about NIGMS’ partnership with Scholastic and the free Pathways student magazine that has wide reach to students and teachers across the United States. He requested Council’s help in getting input on developing consent language for future use of data and biospecimens (NOT-OD-21-131) and on current and future needs and ways to utilize cloud computing, particularly in under-resourced research environments (NOT-OD-21-158 and via an NIH workshop on this topic). Dr. Lorsch updated the Council on two administrative supplement programs related to COVID-19 for Institutional Development Award (IDeA) and Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) programs for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance studies and addressing vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Lorsch presented the inaugural class of Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers scholars and announced the program’s first annual meeting on October 14 and October 15. Dr. Lorsch then provided the Council with updates on new funding opportunities for the Support for Research Excellence (SuRE) program. Finally, he shared the creation of a joint NHLBI-NIGMS Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), Pneumonia, and Sepsis Phenotyping Consortium (NOT-HL-21-002). The consortium seeks to understand the heterogeneity and underlying mechanisms of critical illness syndromes and recovery, specifically in adults with ARDS, pneumonia, and sepsis, as well as the relationship and biological overlap between these syndromes.

Contact: Jon Lorsch, Ph.D., jon.lorsch@nih.gov

V. Presentation: Evaluation of the Native American Research Centers for Health Program

The Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) program is managed by NIGMS and includes multiple participating NIH institutes and centers. The program, which began in 2001, awards grants for research, capacity building, and career enrichment to federally recognized American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes or tribally based organizations. NARCH’s goals are to: 1) support health research projects controlled and prioritized by AI/AN communities, 2) reduce health disparities in AI/AN populations, 3) encourage a cadre of scientists and health research professionals interested in AI/AN health research, and 4) to encourage research capacity and infrastructure building within AI/AN communities to provide a framework for sustainability of research by the tribal communities. Toward effective stewardship of this important investment, NIGMS gathered relevant data (qualitative and quantitative) and performed an outcomes analysis of the NARCH program. The evaluation also included input from the NIH Tribal Advisory Committee and culminated with a formal tribal consultation organized by NIGMS and the NIH Tribal Health Research Office. The evaluation revealed that although NARCH has evolved and is currently meeting its goals, a number of improvements could be made to help the program better support the health research needs of AI/AN communities. The recommendations of the tribal consultation and evaluation are summarized in the Tribal Consultation Report and Response [PDF].

Contacts: Darrin Akins, Ph.D., Darrin-Akins@ouhsc.edu; Pamela Stacks, Ph.D., pamela.stacks@sjsu.edu

VI. Presentation: Native American Research Centers for Health Tribal Consultation

Informed by a recent evaluation of NARCH, NIGMS intends to continue funding the program at or above current levels. The formal tribal consultation [PDF] with NIGMS staff provided a number of important insights, including a desired shift away from a reliance on traditional western academic values and norms. The consultation also revealed a need to: 1) enhance the tribes’ ability to conduct research and train researchers, 2) reduce the complexity of NARCH grant applications and awards, and 3) better align peer review with NARCH goals, including putting reviewers from AI/AN communities on NARCH study sections (as articulated in American Indian and Alaska Native Research in the Health Sciences: Critical Considerations for the Review of Research Applications [PDF] document). In addition, the consultation pointed to the continued need for NARCH grant reviewers to understand the importance of culture and language as research elements for examining health disparities, resilience, and dealing with trauma in Indian Country. NIGMS is now considering possible additional NARCH-related programs, such as tribal technical assistance and resource centers, grants to tribes to help them build or enhance their own sponsored program offices, and training grants for tribes/tribal organizations. NIGMS will also look beyond traditional academic indicators (papers, citations, etc.) when evaluating success and progress of the NARCH investment.

Contact: Jon Lorsch, Ph.D., jon.lorsch@nih.gov

VII. Concept Clearance: Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards

The Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) program combines a mentored postdoctoral research experience at a research-intensive institution with a mentored teaching opportunity at a teaching-intensive partner institution with a diverse student population. The primary goal of IRACDA is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained biomedical scientists who have the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue independent academic teaching and research careers. An additional goal is to benefit the teaching-intensive partner institutions, e.g., provide research-oriented, early career teachers, mentors, and role models for the students; enhance science educational offerings; provide research opportunities for faculty and students; and/or bring expertise with state-of-the-art research methods and technologies. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue an IRACDA funding announcement with no significant changes to the program.

Contact: Edgardo Falcón-Morales, Ph.D., edgardo.falcon@nih.gov

VIII. Concept Clearance: Postdoctoral Research Associate Training Program

The Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) program’s overarching goal is to provide a diverse group of fellows with high-quality research training in NIGMS mission areas and to prepare them for leadership positions in biomedical research careers. In addition to laboratory experience in NIH intramural research laboratories, the PRAT program provides a structured training environment with extensive career and professional development, mentoring, and networking opportunities. NIGMS received Council approval to issue a slightly revised PRAT Fi2 funding announcement that will enhance the Institute’s ability to train promising basic scientists conducting postdoctoral research within the NIH intramural program.

Contact: Edgardo Falcón-Morales, Ph.D., edgardo.falcon@nih.gov

IX. Concept Clearance: Mature Synchrotron Resources

Synchrotron beamlines are invaluable for structural biology research. To ensure that NIH-supported investigators have access to these beamlines, NIGMS supports mature synchrotron resources providing various synchrotron-based techniques that deliver state-of-the-art instrumentation, generate important structural biology data, and offer user support and training. The resources are accessible to all biomedical researchers whose projects are vetted through a peer review process. The Mature Synchrotron Resources (MSR) program offers continued support of mature NIGMS-supported synchrotron resources that have one or more established techniques and can demonstrate an active user program through publication of research results or structural models. NIGMS support maintains the structural biology beamline resources at a suitably advanced level and replaces existing equipment and implementation of the latest instrumentation with minor technology development. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue the MSR funding announcement with no significant changes to the program.

Contact: Mary Ann Wu, Ph.D., maryann.wu@nih.gov

X. Concept Clearance: Renewal of Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (Phase 2)

The Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program helps establish and develop thematic biomedical research centers and enhance the competitiveness of investigators for obtaining independent research grants and other peer-reviewed support. COBRE is one of the main initiatives supported by the congressionally mandated IDeA program, a long-term initiative that supports building and expanding biomedical research capacity in states and jurisdictions that have historically lagged in NIH funding. COBRE consists of three sequential 5-year phases. The goal of phase 2 is to strengthen centers established in phase 1 through enhancements to research infrastructure and continued development and growth of a cadre of investigators with shared scientific interests. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue the COBRE phase 2 funding announcement with no significant changes to the program.

Contact: Federico Bernal, Ph.D., federico.bernal@nih.gov

XI. Concept Clearance: Institutional Development Award Clinical Research Resource Center

The proposed IDeA Clinical Research Resource Center will strengthen the clinical research infrastructure in IDeA states. The resource center will provide critically needed service and training in matters associated with the management and operations of clinical trials. It will also strengthen IDeA investigators’ ability to extract and use data from electronic health records for research purposes. The resource center will support activities to 1) improve participation in clinical trials, 2) strengthen clinical trial competence of the research workforce, 3) increase patient awareness and decrease hesitancy about clinical trials, and 4) expand the use of electronic health records for clinical research. Longer term, the resource center will broaden participation of patients with diverse demographical, geographical, and socioeconomic backgrounds; increase the generalizability of clinical trial results; and reduce health disparities. NIGMS received Council approval to issue a funding announcement for the IDeA Clinical Research Resource Center.

Contacts: Ming Lei, Ph.D., leim@mail.nih.gov; Lumy Sawaki-Adams, Ph.D., lumy-sawaki-adams@nih.gov

XII. Concept Clearance: Maximizing Investigators' Research Award

The NIGMS Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) provides support for the research program in an investigator’s laboratory: a collection of projects that are within NIGMS’ scientific mission. MIRA characteristics include increased award length, funding stability, flexibility in future research directions, and reduced administrative burden. In its next phase, the program will accept both new applications and renewal submissions from eligible applicants. NIGMS received Council approval to issue a new MIRA funding announcement, expanding eligibility to include new investigators (those who haven’t previously competed successfully for substantial, independent NIH funding) and a required plan for enhancing diverse perspectives component that is scorable at the scientific review.

Contact: Zhongzhen Nie, Ph.D., niezhong@nigms.nih.gov

XIII. Concept Clearance: Development of Cloud-Based Learning Tools for Biomedical Research

Cloud computing provides end users access to data, high performance computation, and storage space without a heavy institutional investment in infrastructure. Access to and utilization of cloud computing are extremely valuable for students and investigators at under-resourced institutions. However, learning tools for using cloud computing remain limited. NIGMS has developed pilots—in partnership with engineers from Google—through the NIH STRIDES (Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability) program, to create interactive self-learning tools that provide students skills in biomedical research and provide faculty investigators programming skills to use cloud resource for training and research. The learning modules will be presented in the upcoming NIH cloud computing usage virtual workshop on September 13-14. NIGMS will next support administrative supplements to existing grants to develop additional cloud-based modules and disseminate them for public access.

Contact: Ming Lei, Ph.D., leim@mail.nih.gov

CLOSED PORTION OF THE MEETING

This portion of the meeting was closed to the public in accordance with the determination that it concerned matters exempt from mandatory disclosures under Sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5, U.S.C. and Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act as amended (5 U.S.C. Appendix 2).

Members absented themselves from the meeting during discussion of and voting on applications from their own institutions, or other applications in which there was a potential conflict of interest, real or apparent. Members were asked to sign a statement to this effect.

Review of Applications

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences considered 907 research and training applications requesting $439,743,423 in total costs. The Council recommended 907 applications with a total cost of $439,743,423.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 4:03 p.m. on September 9, 2021.

CERTIFICATION

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