Advisory Council Minutes, September 10-11, 2009

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred forty-first meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 10, 2009.

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 4:30 p.m. on September 10, the meeting was open to the public on September 11 from 8:35 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

Council Members Present:

Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Ph.D.
Michael D. Caldwell, M.D., Ph.D.
Edwin S. Flores, Ph.D., J.D.
Mariano Garcia-Blanco, M.D., Ph.D.
Howard H. Garrison, Ph.D.
Clifford W. Houston, Ph.D.
John E. Johnson, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Mason, Ph.D.
Steven L. McKnight, Ph.D.
W. James Nelson, Ph.D.
Paula Stephan, Ph.D.
James L. Stevens, Ph.D.
Virginia A. Zakian, Ph.D.

Members Absent:

Robert F. Murphy, Ph.D.
Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present:

Frederick R. Cross, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Yeast Molecular Genetics
Rockefeller University
New York, NY 10065

Kenneth S. Zaret, Ph.D.
Department of Cell and
Developmental Biology
University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Council roster (available from NIGMS).

Members of the Public Present:

Dr. Blair Feldman, AIKI
Dr. Sherry Marts, Genetics Society of America
Dr. Erika Milczek, Emory University

Federal Employees Present:

Dr. Richard Rodewald, National Science Foundation

NIGMS 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 then he introduced the special consultants: Frederick R. Cross, Ph.D., professor, Laboratory of Yeast Molecular Genetics, Rockefeller University; and Kenneth S. Zaret, Ph.D., professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Berg then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the May 21-22, 2009, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

January 21-22, 2010
May 20-21, 2010
September 20-21, 2010

IV. Report from the Director, NIGMS

Dr. Berg began his report by announcing the confirmation of Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., as the NIH director on August 17, 2009. He noted that Dr. Collins had appointed Kathy Hudson, Ph.D., as his chief of staff. He then noted the announcement or appointment of several individuals to high-level positions within the Department of Health and Human Services including Regina Benjamin, M.D. as the nominee for surgeon general; Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H., appointed as assistant secretary for health; and Nicole Lurie, M.D., appointed as assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

Dr. Berg announced the appointment of a number of new NIGMS staff members including Program Directors Joe Gindhart, Ph.D., and George Santangelo, Ph.D., and Grants Management Specialists Dan Beren, Richard Brundage, Mitchell Curling, Dan Herrington, Mitzi Kosciulek and Susan South.

Dr. Berg then briefly updated the Council about the status of the Enhancing Peer Review activities including the fact that the new scoring system had been used for many applications being considered during the current Council round. He reminded the Council that a shorter application formats would be used starting in January 2010 and that more information about the requirements for these applications would be released soon.

Dr. Berg announced the release of the NIH RePORT Web site as a replacement for the CRISP system and commented that RePORT has several features lacking from CRISP, most notably the availability of information about the costs associated with each award.

Dr. Berg announced that the NIGMS Feedback Loop electronic newsletter had been converted to a blog format, and is the first official blog at NIH. He provided some key statistics including 12,900 e-mail subscribers and 35 posts by 18 distinct NIGMS staff members. He indicated his enthusiasm about this new mode for providing information to and receiving feedback from the scientific community.

Dr. Berg then discussed the current status of the distribution of funds associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). He reminded the Council of the NIH mechanisms that could be supported with ARRA funds and indicated the anticipated distribution for NIGMS ARRA awards across these mechanisms. He noted that over 20 percent of NIGMS ARRA funds had been obligated at that time. NIGMS staff were working diligently to make awards with the expectation that over 80 percent of the NIGMS allocation would be obligated by the end of the fiscal year. He also highlighted features on the NIH RePORT Web site that allowed for easy tracking of ARRA awards across the country.

Finally, Dr. Berg announced the intention of NIGMS to undertake a strategic plan focused on research training. He indicated that the planning process would begin with an examination of the goals of training programs and would extend to strategic analysis of the use of various mechanisms for supporting training and workforce development. He noted that there would be opportunities for Council and the broad scientific community to provide input relevant to the formulation of this plan.

V. The Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students: One Student's View

In Summer 2009, 23 Nobel laureates and 580 young researchers from 67 countries met in Lindau, Germany, for the 59th Meeting of Nobel Laureates. The 2009 meeting, dedicated to chemistry, aimed to provide a unique training experience for graduate students preparing for careers as independent investigators. In addition to promoting networking opportunities, the experience also teamed students with Nobel laureates as mentors. Erika Milczek of Emory University in Atlanta recounted her personal experiences from the event, noting that the meeting enriched her outlook on science and her own research on developing enzyme inhibitors as neuroprotectants against age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

Contact: Erika Milczek,, 770-880-8473

VI. Preview: Advancing Biomedical Research Workforce Diversity Workshop

On March 11-12, 2010, NIGMS will sponsor a two-day workshop on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, for postdoctoral fellows transitioning to their first independent positions. The agenda covers all stages of this transition process, from identifying the institutions that best fit their needs to preparing for the job search, negotiating a startup package, setting up a laboratory, applying for research funding and receiving tenure. Although the focus of the workshop is on academic positions, participants will also have an opportunity to learn about other scientific careers. Dr. Judith Greenberg noted that applications are due by November 2, 2009, and that individuals selected to attend the workshop will be reimbursed by NIGMS for travel and per diem expenses.

Contact: Dr. Judith Greenberg,, 301-594-0943


VIII. Review of Applications

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


The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m. on September 11, 2009.


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