The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council
was convened in closed session for its one hundred forty-sixth
meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 19, 2011.
Dr. Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General
Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. Dr.
Lawrence Tabak, Principal Deputy Director, National Institutes of
Health (NIH), presided over the discussions of applications during
the closed session. After a closed session from 8:35a.m. to 4:30
p.m. on May 19, the meeting was open to the public on May 20 from
8:31 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.
Council Members Present:
Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Michael D. Caldwell, M.D., Ph.D.
Luisa DiPietro, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Mariano Garcia-Blanco, M.D., Ph.D.
Howard H. Garrison, Ph.D.
John E. Johnson, Ph.D.
Karolin Luger, Ph.D.
Denise J. Montell, Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Robert F. Murphy, Ph.D.
W. James Nelson, Ph.D.
Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, Ph.D.
James L. Stevens, Ph.D.
David O. Meltzer, M.D., Ph.D.
Special Consultants Present:
David A. Agard, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
University of California, San Francisco
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
San Francisco, CA 94158-2517
Jorge A. Goldstein, Ph.D., J.D.
Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein and Fox, P.L.L.C.
Washington, DC 20005
Eaton E. Lattman, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director
Medical Research Institute
Professor of Structural Biology
University of Buffalo, SUNY
Buffalo, NY 14203-1102
Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D.
Professor and Ruth Merns Chair
Department of Biochemistry
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, NY 10461
Antoinette Torres, B.A.
Associate Vice Provost
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Council roster (available from NIGMS).
Members of the Public Present:
Dr. Norma Allwell, University of Maryland
Dr. Caroline Trupp Gil, American Chemical Society
Federal Employees Present:
Dr. Mary Ann Horn, National Science Foundation
NIGMS and other NIH employees:
Please see the sign-in sheet (available from NIGMS).
OPEN PORTION OF THE MEETING
I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks
Dr. Berg thanked the regular members of the Council who were
present and then introduced the special consultants: David A.
Agard, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics,
University of California, San Francisco; Jorge A. Goldstein, Ph.D.,
director, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein and Fox, P.L.L.C.; Eaton E.
Lattman, Ph.D., chief executive officer and executive director,
Hauptman-Woodward Institute, and Medical Research Institute,
University of Buffalo; Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D., professor and Ruth
Merns chair, Department of Biochemistry, Yeshiva University; and
Antoinette Torres, B.A., associate vice provost, Drexel University.
Dr. Berg then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.
II. Consideration of Minutes
The minutes of the January 27-28, 2011, meeting were approved as
Please note that the January minutes incorrectly listed Dr.
Mariano Garcia-Blanco as absent; he participated via telephone
III. Future Meeting Dates
The following dates for future Council meetings were
September 15-16, 2011
January 19-20, 2012
May 24-25, 2012
IV. Report from the Director, NIGMS
Dr. Berg announced the appointment of Sally Howard as Chief of
Staff of the Department of Health and Human Services and the
selection of Martha Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D., as the Director of the
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. He
noted the departures of Jack Jones, Ph.D., from the positions of
NIH Chief Information Officer and Director of the Center of
Information Technology (effective February 2011) and Larry Self
from the position of Director of the NIH Office of Equal
Opportunity and Diversity Management (effective July 2011).
He noted the NIGMS appointments of Michael Sakalian, Ph.D., as
program director in the Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics,
Sarawathy Seetharam, Ph.D., as scientific review officer in the
Office of Scientific Review and Jill Bradshaw as a grants
management specialist in the Grants Administration Branch.
Finally, he noted the NIGMS departures of Annie Aung from the
Financial Management Branch (effective May 2011), John Schwab,
Ph.D., from the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology and Biological
Chemistry (effective May 2011) and Bert Shapiro, Ph.D., from the
Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics (effective July 2011).
V. Update from the NIGMS Director
NIGMS Director Dr. Jeremy Berg provided an update on staff and
policy-related issues pertaining to NIGMS, NIH and HHS. He
presented information about the planned dissolution of the National
Center for Research Resources, and the expected impact on NIGMS.
The two main programs scheduled to migrate to NIGMS include the
Institutional Development Award program and a large portion of the
Biomedical Technology program. Dr. Berg also noted the recent
issuance of the NIGMS Strategic Plan for Training, and reported
that implementation activities are under way. Finally, Dr. Berg
presented results of a study he has conducted that measure
productivity as a function of peer review. The key findings include
that while the very top group of scored applications showed the
highest level of productivity (as assessed by carefully
chosen and parsed citation metrics), substantial productivity
remains even past the 20th percentile of application scores. Dr.
Berg expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the
scientific community in his role as NIGMS director for the
past seven years.
Contact: Dr. Jeremy Berg, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-648-3333
VI. Council Tribute to Dr. Jeremy Berg
On behalf of the entire NIGMS Council, Dr. Howard Garrison
offered the following statement in recognition of Dr. Berg's
tenure at NIGMS:
"In appreciation of your 7 years of leadership at NIGMS,
the members of the Council express their profound gratitude to you
for your distinguished service to science and the nation. We
recognize your outstanding work in the pursuit of excellence in
research and education, mentoring and advocacy for basic research.
Your willingness to deal directly with challenging issues has
earned you our respect and admiration. It has been a pleasure and
an honor to work with you, and we will miss you. We wish you
continued success in your new endeavors."
Contact: Dr. Howard Garrison, email@example.com,
VII. Presentation: Origins of Epithelia and
A fundamental characteristic of animals is a simple, polarized
epithelium that lines organs and tissues. Epithelia separate
biological compartments and control the movement of ions and
proteins. In higher animals, the polarization of simple epithelia
requires a cell-cell adhesion complex containing a classical
cadherin, the Wnt-signaling protein β-catenin and the
actin-binding protein α-catenin, which together organize the
secretory pathway and cytoskeleton. Dr. W. James Nelson of Stanford
University shared his recent findings in this area, in which he has
used the non-metazoan Dictyostelium discoideum as a model.
Dr. Nelson also pointed to the value of PSI:Biology in advancing
these research efforts.
Contact: Dr. James Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org,
VIII. Report: Workshop on Next Generation Approaches to
Understanding Human Phenotypes and Genetic Diseases
Next-generation sequencing of human DNA has transformed the
field of human genetics by revealing the presence of countless,
rare sequence differences, even among related, healthy individuals.
Determining the role of these genetic variants in defining human
biologic traits and diseases is an important and complex task.
NIGMS convened a workshop in February 2011, with the goal of
identifying both the barriers to, and novel strategies for,
studying the biologic consequences of these genetic variants. Dr.
Donna Krasnewich reported that workshop participants recommended
the development of assays, model organism studies, statistical
methods and cross-disciplinary communication to enhance the
emergence of this field.
Contact: Dr. Donna Krasnewich, email@example.com,
IX. Update: Glue Grants Outcome Assessment
The NIGMS large-scale, collaborative project awards, or
"glue grant," program has provided resources for
scientists to form teams to tackle complex problems that are beyond
the means of any one research group. Over the past 11 years, NIGMS
has invested $368 million in this program. Recently, NIGMS
conducted an assessment of the glue grant program, led by an
external panel, to determine whether the outcomes of the five
awards that have ended or are nearing an end have been in line with
their individual scopes and the Institute's investment in the
program. Dr. Peter Preusch summarized the evaluation process and
its results, and Dr. Norma Allewell, chairperson of the
evaluation panel, presented key findings of the panel's report. The conclusions point to the need for a more tailored
"suite" of approaches for designing funding strategies
for future large-scale studies.
Contacts: Dr. Peter Preusch, firstname.lastname@example.org,
301-594-0828; Dr. Norma Allewell, Allewell@umd.edu, 301-405-6892
X. Report: Expanding Chemical Space
Although carbohydrates conduct the bulk of information transfer
in biological systems, progress in defining, sequencing and
deciphering the "glycome" has been slow. This is in
part due to the paucity of glycans available for both tool
development and for use as standards for structural analysis.
Building upon its previous efforts to facilitate the development of
chemistry methods to advance the field of glycomics, NIGMS hosted a
workshop to consider ways of automating glycan production. Dr.
Pamela Marino presented a summary of workshop discussion and
recommended next steps for addressing the issue.
Contact: Dr. Pamela Marino, email@example.com,
XI. Update: Diversity Supplements Program
Dr. Meredith Temple-O'Connor presented an update on the
NIGMS Diversity Supplements Program, which provides administrative
supplements to grants to support the addition of an eligible
individual to an individual research project. Points of discussion
included an overview of the NIGMS philosophy for this program (in
particular, its key focus on personalized mentoring and trainee
development), details on how it is administered at NIGMS and a
recent summary of data on awards made during FY2010.
Contact: Dr. Meredith Temple-O'Connor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-435-7124
XII. Update: NIGMS HIV/AIDS Program
This year marks the 25th anniversary of NIGMS' research
program on HIV/AIDS, which has focused on the high-resolution
structures of viral protein components and upon structure-based
drug design. More recently, NIGMS-funded centers in this program have
supported research on structure determination of host-viral protein
complexes. NIGMS hosted a meeting in March 2011 to celebrate the
achievements of this program as well as to determine next steps.
Dr. Peter Preusch and Dr. Michael Sakalian gave an overview of the
meeting and described their plan to reissue a research solicitation
to fund one or two new centers, as well as program project grants,
to help fill gaps in this area of research.
Contacts: Dr. Michael Sakalian, email@example.com,
301-594-0828; Dr. Peter Preusch, firstname.lastname@example.org,
XIII. CLOSED PORTION OF THE MEETING
XIV. Review of Applications
A summary of applications reviewed by the Council is available
The meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m. on May 20, 2011.
I hereby certify that to my knowledge the foregoing minutes are
accurate and complete.
Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D.
National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council
Ann A. Hagan, Ph.D.
National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council