Advisory Council Minutes, September 18-19, 2014

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred fifty-sixth meeting at 8:31 a.m. on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

Dr. Jon R. Lorsch, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. After a closed session from 8:31 a.m. to 5:19 p.m. on September 18, the meeting was open to the public on September 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:26 p.m.

Council Members Present

David A. Agard, Ph.D.
Gail E. Besner, M.D.
Mary (Molly) L. Carnes, M.D.
Henry T. Greely, J.D.
Alan (Rick) F. Horwitz, Ph.D.
Richard Lalonde, Pharm.D.
Scott J. Miller, Ph.D.
Marc A. Nivet, Ed.D.
Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D.
Margaret C. Werner-Washburne, Ph.D.
Holly A. Wichman, Ph.D.

Council Members Absent


Special Consultants Present

Scott C. Blanchard, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Weill Medical College
Cornell University
New York, NY 10065

Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D.
Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Houston, TX 77030

Catherine C. Fenselau, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Maryland, College Park
College Park, MD 20742-3281

Kathleen L. Gould, Ph.D.
Louise B. McGavock Professor
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences
Director, Vanderbilt International Scholars Program
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Nashville, TN 37232

Richard L. Gourse, Ph.D.
Ira L. Baldwin Professor and Chair
Department of Bacteriology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706

Michael F. Summers, Ph.D.
Distinguished University Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Baltimore, MD 21250

Meera Sundaram, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Genetics
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6145

Cathy H. Wu, Ph.D.
Edward G. Jefferson Chair and Director
Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19711-5449

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi, American Society for Cell Biology
Stephanie Deluca, American Chemical Society
Dr. Adam Fagen, Genetics Society of America
Dr. Howard Garrison, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Caroline Trupp Gil, American Chemical Society
Dr. Komaraiah (Kumar) Palle, University of South Alabama

NIGMS and Other NIH employees

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

Other Federal Employees Present



I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

Dr. Lorsch thanked the regular members of the Council who were present and then introduced the special consultants: Scott C. Blanchard, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Medical College, Cornell University; Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D., professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Catherine C. Fenselau, Ph.D., professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park; Kathleen L. Gould, Ph.D., Louise B. McGavock Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, associate dean for biomedical sciences, and director, Vanderbilt International Scholars Program, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Richard L. Gourse, Ph.D., Ira L. Baldwin Professor and Chair, Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Michael F. Summers, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Meera Sundaram, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Genetics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; and Cathy H. Wu, Ph.D., Edward G. Jefferson Chair and Director, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Delaware. Dr. Lorsch then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the May 22-23, 2014, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

January 22-23, 2015           Thursday-Friday
May 21-22, 2015                  Thursday-Friday
September 17-18, 2015     Thursday-Friday

IV. NIGMS Director's Report

Dr. Lorsch thanked Council members for their continued service and updated the group on staff hires and departures at NIGMS and NIH. He alerted the group to the upcoming Stetten Lecture featuring NIGMS grantee Dr. Ron Vale of the University of California, San Francisco (USCF), and reported that long-time NIGMS grantee Dr. Peter Walter, also of UCSF, won the 2014 Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his research on stress response pathways. Dr. Lorsch emphasized the ongoing importance of bidirectional communication with the Institute's stakeholder communities and presented examples of current activities that have been effective. He updated the Council on NIGMS activities related to the NIH Reproducibility Initiative that include NIGMS efforts on cell authentication and grants for training modules. Dr. Lorsch then presented an overview of various impacts of the previous NIH budget-doubling period on the biomedical research ecosystem, pointing to a need to re-equilibrate this system and asking for help and ideas from the Council. Dr. Lorsch concluded by updating the Council on the NIGMS strategic planning process currently under way.

Contact: Dr. Jon R. Lorsch,, 301-594-2172

V. Presentation: Life: Magnified Exhibit--Reaching the Public Through Stunning Microscopy Images

About 5 million airline passengers will see the Life: Magnified exhibit of 46 colorful microscopy images on display now through the end of December at Washington Dulles International Airport. NIGMS is co-sponsoring the exhibit with the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's Arts Program. Ms. Alisa Zapp Machalek explained that the exhibit and a companion Web site that provides freely downloadable, high-resolution versions of all images and extended captions have garnered widespread media attention from the scientific press, general interest publications and online communities.

Contact: Ms. Alisa Zapp Machalek,, 301-496-7301

VI. Presentation: Enzyme Transition States and Dynamics in Function and Drug Design

Life chemistry requires enzymatic reactions that involve creating and breaking chemical bonds. A combination of experimental and theoretical analysis is providing new insights into the roles of fast and slow protein dynamic motion during enzyme reactions. Dr. Vern Schramm of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine presented an overview of enzyme transition states and dynamics, including how knowledge of these elusive, femtosecond processes are relevant to drug design-in particular, for the design of enzyme inhibitors.

Contact: Dr. Vern L. Schramm,, 718-430-2813

VII. Presentation: Finding Ways to Foster SBIR/STTR Applicants From IDeA States

Recent Congressional language called for action to enhance coordination between the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program and federal SBIR/STTR programs. An August 2014 workshop focused on the issue of attracting entrepreneurs from IDeA states into SBIR/STTR programs. Workshop attendees included people representing a variety of professional activities within IDeA states and NIGMS/NIH staff. Drs. Scott Somers and Krishan Arora described the workshop and presented possible future activities recommended by the attendees. These include creating regional networks/hubs, providing education and training, enhancing outreach and communication between NIH and IDeA institutions, and promoting institutional culture changes.

Contacts: Dr. Scott Somers,, 301-594-3827; Dr. Krishan Arora,, 301-594-3900

VIII. Concept Clearance: Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA)

Dr. Peter Preusch presented an NIGMS proposal to create the new Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA). The goal of this effort is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of NIGMS support for fundamental biomedical research. MIRA will provide support for all NIGMS-relevant research in an investigator's laboratory. Reviews will emphasize a holistic evaluation of the investigator's track record and potential importance of his or her proposed research. NIGMS issued a request for information to solicit public input on this concept, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. The Council discussed, and approved, a concept clearance to proceed with developing the MIRA program, which aims to offer the first awards using FY 2016 funds.

Contact: Dr. Peter Preusch,, 301-594-0828

IX. Concept Clearance: 1-Year Extension for National Centers for Systems Biology

As part of the ongoing examination of NIGMS large-scale research initiatives and centers, the Institute is currently evaluating the National Centers for Systems Biology program. As described by Dr. Peter Lyster, the evaluation includes conducting quantitative analyses of the program's contributions to systems biology research, training and outreach, as well as gathering input from a panel of external scientific experts. Results and recommendations from this evaluation, expected in early 2015, will help NIGMS determine a future path for funding systems biology research in the context of competing research-funding priorities. The Council discussed, and approved, a concept clearance to provide a 1-year extension for the centers program to allow for competing renewal applications.

Contact: Dr. Peter Lyster,, 301-451-6446

X. Presentation: Protocolized Care for Early Septic Shock (ProCESS): Example of an NIGMS-Supported Clinical Trial

Dr. Sarah Dunsmore presented an overview of ProCESS, a Phase-III, multisite clinical trial funded by NIGMS from 2006-2013 designed to test the effectiveness and generalizability of a protocol-based treatment for septic shock. ProCESS enrolled 1,351 patients at 31 hospitals over a 5-year period. The results indicate that support of septic shock patients with protocol-based care offers no significant advantage over the treating physician's judgment. Dr. Dunsmore noted that conclusions from ProCESS have important public health implications, including providing evidence that argue against the mandated use of central venous catheterization. Dr. Dunsmore also discussed current NIGMS strategies for managing clinical-trial applications.

Contact: Contact: Dr. Sarah Dunsmore,, 301-594-3827

XI. Public Comment Period

Dr. Adam Fagen, executive director of the Genetics Society of America (GSA), noted GSA's awareness of NIGMS' current efforts related to its MIRA award concept. He also mentioned that the society is pleased with NIGMS' strategic planning process and noted that GSA had recently issued a relevant white paper.

Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology, echoed support for NIGMS' continued focus on investigator-initiated research and presented a brief summary of ASCB advocacy efforts. He also affirmed ASCB's support for the MIRA concept and its evaluation component, but issued caution that NIGMS carefully establish an effective review process for this program. Finally, he reported that ASCB continues to work on reproducibility-related issues through a task force aligned with the NIH Reproducibility Initiative. ASCB is also currently engaged in efforts to expand career options for biomedical research graduates through a range of approaches. Dr. Bertuzzi concluded by noting that ASCB continues its efforts, akin to Life: Magnified, to engage the nonscientific public about basic research.

Dr. Howard Garrison, deputy executive director for policy and director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), thanked NIGMS for its continued communications with the basic biomedical research community. He noted that FASEB continues its advocacy efforts, including creating awareness materials for scientists to use in communicating about biomedical research.


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


The meeting adjourned at 12:26 p.m. on September 19, 2014.


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

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