Advisory Council Minutes - January 24-25, 2019

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred sixty-ninth meeting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, January 24, 2019.

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 9 a.m. to 4:06 p.m. on January 24, the meeting was open to the public on January 25 from 8:39 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Council Members Present

Darrin Akins, Ph.D.
Celeste Berg, Ph.D.
Goldie S. Byrd, Ph.D.
Enrique M. De La Cruz, Ph.D.
Peter J. Espenshade, Ph.D.
William A. Gern, Ph.D.
Kaye Husbands Fealing, Ph.D.
Tarun M. Kapoor, Ph.D.
Sabeeha Merchant, Ph.D.
Larry E. Overman, Ph.D.
Guy Padbury, Ph.D.
Michael Summers, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Cathy Wu, Ph.D.
John Younger, M.D., M.S.

Special Consultants Present

Prachee Avasthi, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
University of Kansas Medical Center
Kansas City, KS 66103

Squire J. Booker, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Eberly Family Distinguished Chair in Science
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802

Sushmita Roy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Madison, WI 53715

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Adam Fagen
Rachel Levinson, Arizona State University
Steven Marcalus, GeneRxMed
Andre Porter, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Teresa Ramirez, 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

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 or attending remotely and introduced the special consultants. He then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the September 13-14, 2018, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 16-17, 2019
September 19-20, 2019
January 16-17, 2020

IV. NIGMS Director's Report

NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch thanked the Council and NIGMS staff for their continued diligence in making Council meetings possible and successful, and he welcomed new Council members. In highlighting staff changes in and out of the Institute, he noted the recent and sudden passing of two long-time NIH leaders and colleagues: Dr. Stephen Katz, director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and Dr. Paul Sheehy, director of the Division of Extramural Activities at the National Eye Institute and former deputy director of the NIGMS Division of Extramural Activities. Dr. Lorsch also noted new NIGMS staff hires and promotions, including Dr. Ming Lei, new director of the Division for Research Capacity Building, and two new NIH Institute and Center directors: Dr. Helene M. Langevin, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and Dr. Bruce J. Tromberg, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Dr. Lorsch recognized NIGMS grantees as recipients of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Drs. Frances Arnold and George Smith; the 2018 Lasker Awards to Drs. Michael Grunstein, C. David Allis, and Joan Steitz; and the 2018 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring to Drs. Ann L. Chester, John A. Pollock, Virginia L. Shepherd, Elba E. Serrano, Maria da Graça H. Vicente, and John K. Haynes. He described recent Congressional interactions, including presentation of the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science to staff from the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and a meeting with Rep. David McKinley (R-WV).

Upcoming NIGMS events include the annual Early-Career Investigator Lecture on April 10, 2019, featuring Dr. Melissa A. Wilson of Arizona State University as well as an NIGMS workshop on research organisms tentatively scheduled for summer 2019 on the NIH campus that will focus on choosing the best research organism for studying a scientific question of interest.

Dr. Lorsch then gave a programmatic update on a newly established effort to accelerate entrepreneurial activity in the biotech sector within IDeA states. The program is based upon a previous NIGMS analysis reporting uneven (lower than non-IDeA state) application rates for SBIR/STTR funding and variable tech-transfer operational capacity across IDeA state institutions. The Regional Tech Transfer Accelerator Hubs for IDeA states is currently developing, implementing, and testing a comprehensive hub/network approach toward building entrepreneurial ecosystems regionally. He then described the new i-MRSP program, a partnership between the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) in the NIH Clinical Center (CC) and the IDeA Clinical and Translational Research program that will recruit medical students to apply for MRSP positions; NIGMS will fund up to five students beyond what the CC can support.

Finally, Dr. Lorsch shared an inspiring video produced by an Ohio high school student and featured on the PBS News Hour. The work was funded by the NIGMS Science Education Partnership Award program.

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

V. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Awards for Research Advancement (SC1), Pilot Projects (SC2), and Research Continuance (SC3)

SCORE aims to increase opportunities for faculty to participate in biomedical research and enhance the diversity of the scientific workforce at institutions that have a historical mission focused on serving students underrepresented in biomedical research and that do not receive substantial NIH funding. SCORE offers three distinct support mechanisms for individual-investigator initiated awards of different scope and for different faculty developmental levels. Dr. Lorsch requested, and received, Council approval to re-issue funding announcements for the SCORE programs: the Research Advancement Award (SC1) funds established faculty who seek to transition to non-SCORE support in a limited period of time. The Pilot Project Award (SC2) funds beginning investigators interested in testing an idea or gathering preliminary data to enable them to secure other research support. The Research Continuance Award (SC3) funds faculty at intermediate stages of development who seek to gradually increase their research productivity and eventually transition to non-SCORE support.

Contact: Dr. Irina Krasnova,, 301-827-7323

VI. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository (U42)

The NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository (HGCR) was established in 1972 and provides well-characterized, high-quality human cell lines and DNA for use in biomedical research. Dr. Lorsch described NIGMS’ plans to reissue the funding announcement for the HGCR. The announcement will continue support of the repository, which 1) maintains a collection of cell cultures and DNA samples; 2) acquires, characterizes, and expands high-quality cell samples; and 3) distributes cell lines and isolated DNA to qualified biomedical researchers. Dr. Lorsch requested, and received, Council approval to craft a funding announcement with a projected date for an award in March 2020.

Contact: Dr. Amanda Melillo,, 301-594-0943

VII. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Limited Competition: NIGMS Legacy Community-Wide Scientific Resources (R24)

The Legacy Community-Wide Scientific Resources program supports important resources developed as a result of NIGMS research activities central to the Institute’s mission but that are no longer eligible for support under their original initiatives. There is continued need for this program for one final issuance as a means to transition some NIGMS resources whose support from the Biomedical Technology Research Resources program is now ending. The Legacy Resources program will allow Biomedical Technology Research Resources that had been planning to submit a competing renewal in Fiscal Year 2019 a means to transition to other sources of support resources of value to the biomedical research community. Dr. Lorsch requested, and received, Council approval to issue this final funding announcement for the program.

Contact: Dr. Susan Gregurick,, 301-451-6446

VIII. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) (K12)

NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to developing the next generation of biomedical scientists who can conduct research and be effective in the classroom. The IRACDA program provides support for a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience at a research-intensive institution combined with an opportunity to develop critical academic skills, including teaching, through workshops and mentored teaching assignments of postdoctoral fellows at a partner institution. Dr. Lorsch described plans to re-issue a funding announcement that will enhance the Institute’s ability to promote and monitor the development of a diverse pool of biomedical scientists across the biomedical research enterprise. Dr. Lorsch requested, and received, Council approval to develop a funding announcement with a projected date for first awards in July 2020.

Contact: Dr. Mercedes Rubio,, 301-594-3900

IX. Concept Clearance: Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) (R25)

The Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) program supports creative and innovative research educational activities designed to complement and/or enhance training of the biomedical research workforce. IPERT programs are designed to support research career development for individuals ranging from the undergraduate to the faculty level. Each broadly available program provides activities that effectively integrate three core elements: short-courses or workshops, mentoring, and outreach. Dr. Lorsch requested, and received, Council approval to re-issue an IPERT funding announcement with a projected date for first awards in July 2020.

Contact: Desiree Salazar, or Edgardo Falcon-Morales, 301-594-3900

X. Concept Clearance: NIGMS Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC)

Dr. Alison Gammie described plans to issue the new Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC), a two-part program aimed to help transition talented postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds (for example, individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce at the faculty level) into independent faculty careers in research-intensive institutions.

The two MOSAIC components include an individual K99/R00 award and an organizational UE5 award:

1. MOSAIC Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity (K99/R00)

The MOSAIC K99 program will help transition outstanding postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds from mentored research positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions. Dr. Gammie requested, and received, Council approval to craft a funding announcement with a projected date for first awards in December 2020.

2. MOSAIC Institutionally-Focused Research Education Cooperative Agreement to Promote Diversity (UE5)

The MOSAIC UE5 cooperative agreement is designed to 1) assemble cohorts of MOSAIC K99/R00 fellows based on scientific areas; 2) enhance the scientific and professional networks of MOSAIC fellows and connect fellows with sponsors/mentors who can facilitate appropriate career advancement; 3) provide courses for skills development to help transition outstanding postdoctoral researchers from mentored research positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions; 4) convene regular meetings with leaders at the institutions where MOSAIC fellows conduct research (e.g., postdoctoral research advisors or postdoctoral affairs deans during the mentored research phase; department chairs, deans, or provosts during the independent phase) to exchange ideas, and employ evidence-based approaches to enhance diversity and improve mentoring; and 5) provide independent oversight and long-term tracking of the fellows’ career. Dr. Gammie requested, and received, Council approval to craft a funding announcement with a projected date for first awards in July 2020.

Contact: Dr. Alison Gammie,, 301-594-3900

XI. Concept Clearance: SBIR Grants to Improve Reproducibility of Derivation, Growth, and Differentiation of iPSC Cells

Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been used successfully to mimic the differentiation of a variety of tissues, understand early development, and study human diseases. However, a variety of issues may affect derivation of the iPSCs and their growth, stability, and differentiation. Challenges exist in growing and maintaining sufficient quantities of iPSC lines in culture without changes in their properties, which limit the ability of multiple investigators to identify and authenticate iPSC lines as part of their research. Dr. Judith Greenberg presented plans to issue a funding announcement to support Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects to develop novel, reliable, and cost-effective methods to standardize and increase the utility and reproducibility of iPSCs at all stages, from their derivation to their research and clinical applications. This funding opportunity is one of a suite of initiatives planned by many NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices to support studies to model human embryonic development to better understand normal tissue growth, differentiation, and normal function and disease etiology, and it builds on NIGMS’ interest in cell-line reproducibility. Dr. Greenberg requested, and received, Council approval to issue a funding announcement with the projected start date for awards of July 2020.

Contact: Dr. Judith Greenberg,, 301-594-2172

XII. Concept Clearance: NIGMS Support for National and Regional Resources (R24)

Research resources enable investigators to access state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, research tools, and expertise that are essential for advancing biomedical science but that are not available in their own laboratories. Dr. Peter Preusch described the proposed NIGMS Support for National and Regional Resources program, designed to help a substantial number of scientists on a national or regional (multi-state) basis, and thus achieve economies of scale. Dr. Preusch noted that the program is limited to resources that have been developed with previous NIGMS support, and that it will consolidate previous, separately funded activities. Examples of resources funded through this program include equipment and facilities for data collection; computational hardware and software; research materials; and research tools for data analysis, cell lines, clones, other biological repositories, organisms, and tissue banks. He clarified that data resources and databases will not be supported independently except as intrinsic to other research activities. Dr. Preusch requested, and received, Council approval to issue a funding announcement for the program, with the first awards expected in 2020.

Contact: Dr. Peter Preusch,, 301-594-6446

XIII. Presentation: F31 Diversity Program Evaluation

Since 1991, NIGMS has been a major supporter of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31 diversity fellowship). Dr. Nathan Moore compared the outcomes of students who were awarded this fellowship (F31 fellows) to those of students who applied for the fellowship but didn't receive it (F31 applicants), and underrepresented predoctoral T32 trainees who never applied for the fellowship (T32 trainees). Among the key findings were that F31 fellows were more likely to complete their Ph.D. programs than F31 applicants, but not T32 trainees; and that F31 fellows, F31 applicants, and T32 trainees who did complete their Ph.D. programs had similar rates of going on to do a postdoc, receiving future NIH research grants, and becoming research scientists.

Contact: Dr. Nathan Moore,, 301-827-4345

XIV. Update: The Common Fund Glycomics Program

In 2012, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences released their report Transforming Glycoscience: A Roadmap for the Future [PDF, 827KB], which assessed the importance and impact of the emerging field of glycomics and the glycosciences. In response to the Academy’s report, the NIH Common Fund initiated a Glycoscience program in 2015. The working group for this program, co-chaired by Dr. Lorsch and National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Director Dr. Martha Somerman, designed an innovative and aggressive 7-year program with accessibility, a rapid timeline, and strong synergy between academic and business communities. Dr. Pam Marino, the NIGMS working group coordinator, described the program’s academic-commercial model for tool/technology development and described considerable progress made to date toward achieving the program’s synthesis, tools, and informatics goals.

Contact: Dr. Pamela A. Marino,, 301-594-3827

XV. Public Comment Period

Dr. Erika Shugart, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) reported the December 2018 release of an ASCB white paper on human organoids [PDF, 2.27MB] that visits emerging issues such as reproducibility and unique training needs, and a December 2018 Declaration on Effective and Inclusive Undergraduate Biology Education. She also alerted the Council about the upcoming ASCB/EMBO meeting December 7-11, 2019, in Washington DC.

Dr. Yvette Seger, director of science policy at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), reported that they are developing a strategic plan on diversity/inclusion. She also alerted the Council about FASEB’s expansion of its longstanding Excellence in Science Award that recognizes outstanding women scientists to include three categories for early-career women, mid-career women, and established-career women​. She encouraged the Council to notify colleagues about the program and its nomination deadline of March 31, 2019.


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m. on January 25, 2019.


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