Advisory Council Minutes, January 16, 2020

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred and seventy-first meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

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 8:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m., the closed session was held from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Council Members Present

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.
Guy Padbury, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Cathy Wu, Ph.D.
John Younger, M.D., M.S.

Special Consultants Present

Nozomi Ando, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-1301

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

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

Laura F. Gibson, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Vice President for Research & Graduate Education
Associate Dean for Research, School of Medicine
Alexander B. Osborn Distinguished Professor
Hematological Malignancies
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506

Pamela Stacks, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President, Research
Division of Research and Innovation
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA 95192-0022

Jeremy E. Wilusz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6059

Wendy Young, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Small Molecule
Drug Discovery
Genentech
South San Francisco, CA 94080

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Naomi Charalambakis, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Yvette Seger, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Erika Shugart, American Society for Cell Biology
Kevin Wilson, American Society for Cell Biology
Dr. Jodi Yellin, Association of American Medical Colleges

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 present and introduced the special consultants. He then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the September 19, 2019, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 21, 2020
September 17-18, 2020
January 21-22, 2021
Thursday
Thursday-Friday
Thursday-Friday

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report

NIGMS Director’s Report Slides [PDF 3MB]

NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch thanked the Council for their service and acknowledged ad hoc participants at the meeting. He announced the selection of Dr. Erica Brown as NIGMS associate director for extramural activities and three branch chief hires: Dr. Miles Fabian, Chief, Biochemistry and Bio-related Chemistry Branch, Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry (PPBC); Dr. Shawn Gaillard, Chief, Developmental and Cellular Processes Branch, Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; and Dr. Zhongzhen Nie, Chief, Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences Branch, PPBC. He then announced other NIGMS hires, departures, and promotions, including the retirement of longtime NIGMS scientific staff members Drs. Alison Cole, Robert Lees, Pamela Marino, and Scott Somers. Dr. Lorsch announced that the former NIGMS Office of Program Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation (OPAE) has been reconfigured to be the Division of Data Integration, Modeling, and Analytics (DIMA). Dr. Lorsch announced the selection of longtime NIGMS grantee Dr. Joshua Denny as chief executive officer for NIH’s All of Us program, and the retirement of National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Director Dr. Martha Somerman. Dr. Lorsch also recognized four NIGMS grantees as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He informed the Council of the January 21, 2020, webinar Diversifying the Research Organism Landscape Link to external web site, co-hosted by NIGMS and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), and highlighted an upcoming issue of the NIGMS/Scholastic science education magazine Pathways Link to external web site that will feature circadian rhythms. Dr. Lorsch provided an update on recent changes to NIH’s Interest in Diversity that address and clarify criteria for i) women at the faculty level and ii) individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Regarding the latter, the updated language enhances the current NIH examples of underrepresented groups in biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences by enabling self-reporting and aiming at being more inclusive of previously missed populations. Dr. Lorsch then discussed NIGMS’ concern with lax safety cultures in academic laboratory environments, as illustrated by sexual harassment as well as by cases of laboratory accidents that caused serious injury or death. As a result, NIGMS will include explicit language about safety in its T32 training-grant funding announcements to encourage institutions to work toward industry standards for safe research environments and integrate teaching of safety throughout their curriculum and mentoring. In addition, NIGMS will create a clearinghouse on its website with links to safety training materials

Contact: Dr. Jon Lorsch, jon.lorsch@nih.gov

V. Presentation: Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Program Evaluation Report

The NIGMS SCORE program comprises three mechanisms (SC1/SC2/SC3) to support research and career development at institutions serving underrepresented groups. SCORE awards are made for investigator-initiated projects, and investigators are expected to obtain and transition to non-SCORE funding. In collaboration with OPAE (now DIMA), a working group of Council reviewed comprehensive data on SCORE applications, awards, trends, and outcomes to determine if the SCORE program is meeting its objectives. Working group co-chair Dr. Peter Espenshade, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, reported the working group’s conclusion that while the SCORE program is achieving some of its goals—such as increasing research competitiveness, the number of underrepresented investigators, and the number of qualifying laboratories—few SCORE investigators have transitioned to non-SCORE funding. The working group recommended that NIGMS: i) modify SCORE program objectives to catalyze institutional support for SCORE-funded investigators; ii) revise expected outcomes for SCORE principal investigators; iii) modify program objectives to prioritize increasing the number of students engaged in quality research; iv) revise or consolidate SCORE funding mechanisms; and v) develop a prospective evaluation plan that aligns data collection with these new objectives.

Contact: Dr. Peter Espenshade, peter.espenshade@jhmi.edu; Dr. Kaye Husbands Fealing, khf@gatech.edu

VI. Presentation: Engineering the Future of Health

Dr. Bruce Tromberg, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), established in 2000, provided an overview of the institute. The NIBIB annual budget of about $400 million funds approximately 1,000 grants on imaging, bioengineering, computer science, informatics, and related approaches. Other NIH institutes and centers (ICs) develop and mature NIBIB-funded enabling technologies for disease-related applications. Currently, approximately 12% of the NIH budget funds bioengineering research related to human health—a growing discipline with increasing numbers of trainees and faculty across the nation. NIBIB interacts and collaborates with various trans-NIH programs, including, for example, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, as well as international efforts such as Data Science Initiative Africa. Most NIBIB-funded investigators aim to understand the quantitative basis of biological systems—using modeling, computation, and machine intelligence—toward creating therapeutic devices, imaging technologies, engineered biology, and sensors/point-of-care devices. Dr. Tromberg pointed to the need for development of continuous health care monitoring approaches that transcend the current, predominantly static approach to capturing health data across the lifespan. He highlighted NIBIB funding mechanisms unique among NIH ICs, including the NIH Trailblazer Award (R21, for early-stage investigators); the NIBIB P41 Cen​ters (leveraged by collaborative and service projects nationwide); the Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network (spanning disease areas and partnered with other NIH ICs); and the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams contest. Looking to the future, Dr. Tromberg predicted increased examples of digital biology approaches and described the need to develop a new workforce to meet technology challenges related to optimizing health and preventing disease.

Contacts: Dr. Bruce Tromberg, bruce.tromberg@nih.gov

VII. Concept Clearance: Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD)

NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to developing the next generation of biomedical scientists through a variety of institutional training and diversity enhancing programs including the IMSD, an institutional student development program that currently provides support to train graduate students. This program is limited to applications from training programs at research-intensive institutions (i.e., those with a 3-year average of NIH research project grant funding equal to or above $7.5 million total costs per year). In FY 2018, IMSD supported 369 predoctoral students at 33 institutions. Dr. Alison Gammie requested and received Council approval to reissue a revised IMSD funding announcement that encourages partnerships with and input from potential employers (e.g., industry, government, nonprofit); focuses on rigor and reproducibility; clarifies instructions institutional and departmental commitment; and reduces the administrative burden of the IMSD application.

Contact: Dr. Alison Gammie, alison.gammie@nih.gov

VIII. Concept Clearance: Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE)

G-RISE is an institutional student development program that currently provides support to train graduate students. This program is limited to applications from training programs at research-active institutions (i.e., those with a 3-year average of NIH research project grant funding less than $7.5 million total costs per year). In FY 2018, G-RISE supported 210 predoctoral students at 15 institutions across the nation. Dr. Alison Gammie requested and received Council approval to reissue a revised G-RISE funding announcement that (like IMSD) encourages partnerships with and input from potential employers (e.g., industry, government, nonprofit); focuses on rigor and reproducibility; clarifies instructions institutional and departmental commitment; and reduces the administrative burden of the G-RISE application.

Contact: Dr. Alison Gammie, alison.gammie@nih.gov

IX. Concept Clearance: Training Modules to Enhance Rigor, Reproducibility, and Responsible Conduct of Research

NIGMS continues to support the development of free, exportable training modules designed to enhance biomedical research workforce training at all career levels. Such modules are innovative, short training units used as stand-alone modules or in combination as short courses. Dr. Alison Gammie requested and received Council approval to issue a funding announcement to develop additional training modules across a range of topic areas, including evaluation of training programs, laboratory safety, wellness, and career preparedness.

Contact: Dr. Alison Gammie, alison.gammie@nih.gov

X. Public Comment Period

Dr. Yvette Seger, FASEB director of science policy, reiterated the January 21, 2020, webinar Diversifying the Research Organism Landscape Link to external web site, co-sponsored by NIGMS. She also highlighted new FASEB fact sheets on research organisms Link to external web site and recipients of the annual Excellence in Science Award Link to external web site for women scientists. Dr. Seger then noted FASEB’s new policy to include early-career scientists on the organization’s advisory boards and invited the Council to submit nominations.

Dr. Erica Shugart, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), described ASCB’s 2019 Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) Image and Video Contest Link to external web site commemorating the 25th anniversary of the development of GFP as a tagging tool for bioscience (winners featured on the NIH Director’s Blog throughout January 2020). She also noted the availability of ASCB Public Engagement Grants Link to external web site for scientists to conduct outreach; expansion of the ASCB biotechnology courses program Link to external web site, aimed to facilitate transitions to industry; efforts to adapt the European Molecular Biology Organization’s laboratory leadership course for use in the United States; and expansion of the ASCB webinar program Link to external web site. Dr. Shugart then reported that ASCB is currently developing a white paper on mid-to-late biomedical career transitions and noted the recent ASCB Public Service Award Link to external web site to longtime NIGMS scientist Dr. Jim Deatherage for his work with the cell biology community.

CLOSED PORTION OF THE MEETING

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

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 3:45 p.m. on January 16, 2020.

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