Advisory Council Minutes, May 16-17, 2019

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred and seventieth meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 16, 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 1:43 p.m. on May 16, the meeting was open to the public on May 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:42 a.m.

Council Members Present

Darrin Akins, Ph.D.
Celeste Berg, Ph.D.
Squire J. Booker, 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.
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

Ron Do
Assistant Professor
The Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine
Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences
Icahn School of Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
New York, NY 10029

Hosea Martin Nelson
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569

Gunaretnam (Guna) Rajagopal, Ph.D.
VP Global Head – Computational Sciences
Discovery Sciences
Johnson and Johnson
Spring House, PA 19477

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Naomi Charalambakis, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Adam Fagen
Patrick Hein, Purdue University
Dr. Perry Kirkham, Purdue University
Dr. Xin Liu, Purdue University
Dr. Elizabeth Parkinson, Purdue University
André Porter, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Teresa Ramirez, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Benita Sjogren, Purdue University

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

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the January 24-25, 2019, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

September 19, 2019
January 16-17, 2020
May 21-22, 2019

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 welcomed new members. He noted the recent retirement of Dr. Ann Hagan, who for many years served as NIGMS associate director for extramural activities and executive secretary of the NAGMS Council. Dr. Lorsch reported that Dr. Ned Sharpless left his post as National Cancer Institute director in April 2019 to serve as acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and that Dr. Doug Lowy has been named NCI acting director. Dr. Lorsch highlighted leadership changes at NIH that include naming Dr. Noni Byrnes as Center for Scientific Review director and Dr. Debara Tucci as National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders director. Dr. Lorsch described recent Congressional interactions related to the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science [PDF, 475KB] and testimony on the FY 2020 NIH budget. Past and upcoming NIGMS events include the April 10, 2019, NIGMS Director's Early-Career Investigator Lecture featuring Dr. Melissa Wilson; the April 30, 2019, Council on Undergraduate Research's "Posters on the Hill"​ (several of which were supported by NIGMS); the September 12, 2019, NIGMS Research Organism Workshop; and the October 23, 2019, Stetten Lecture featuring Dr. Christina Smolke. Dr. Lorsch announced a new collaboration between NIGMS and Scholastic that provides a collection of free education resources designed for grades 6 through 12, including a student magazine, teacher lesson plans, activities, and videos. The magazine and accompanying resources feature NIGMS-funded scientists.

Dr. Lorsch then reported that NIGMS is moving its HIV/AIDS grant portfolio to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. As this research has matured, it has become more narrowly focused with clear goals and near-term targets. No funding for NIGMS mission areas will be lost by transfer of this research because HIV/AIDS is a separate line item in the NIGMS budget allocation. Dr. Lorsch next described recent NIGMS funding trends related to research project grants and the MIRA program, which are presented in more detail in a recent Feedback Loop post. He noted that over the past few years, early-stage investigator MIRA grantees have been 1 year younger than their R01-awarded counterparts. To further encourage this trend, NIGMS has set a strategic goal of achieving a median age of 35 years for ESI MIRA grantees.

Contact: Dr. Jon Lorsch,

V. Presentation: Changing the Culture of Science to Maximize Talent and End Harassment

Dr. Carrie Wolinetz, NIH acting chief of staff and NIH associate director for science policy, spoke to the Council about NIH’s efforts to end sexual harassment by changing the culture of science. NIH’s efforts are framed by the June 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.” Dr. Wolinetz noted that this seminal report fundamentally changed the conversation in biomedicine regarding sexual harassment in a way that was long overdue and has guided NIH actions and plans.

Contact: Dr. Carrie Wolinetz,

VI. Presentation: Report From the Sepsis Working Group

Dr. John Younger, co-chair of the NAGMS Council Sepsis Working Group, gave an overview of sepsis, a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. The condition exacts a huge toll: 1.7 million U.S. cases annually and 270,000 deaths. He noted that no successful drugs for sepsis exist despite a substantial research investment over many years. The working group was charged with advising NIGMS on how the Institute should optimize its support for preclinical and clinical sepsis research. Dr. Younger stated that while more clinical trials are needed, essential trial infrastructure is underdeveloped at NIGMS. Rather, NIGMS should focus on the clinical characterization of patients to develop a better mechanistic understanding of sepsis in humans and improve the likelihood of success of future large definitive trials. Co-chair Dr. Monica Kraft reported the working group’s recommendations to NIGMS, as pertinent to research at various levels: model systems, clinical staging and endotyping, and translation.

Contacts: Dr. John Younger,; Dr. Monica Kraft,

VII. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Phase 3

The objective of the NIGMS-funded COBRE initiative is to strengthen an institution’s biomedical research infrastructure by establishing a thematic, multidisciplinary center and to enhance the ability of investigators to compete independently for NIH individual research grants or other external peer-reviewed support. COBRE is one of three major funding initiatives supported through the Institutional Development Award (IDeA), a program authorized by Congress to build biomedical research capacity in states that have traditionally lagged in NIH funding. The Council approved reissue of the COBRE Phase 3 program funding announcement.

Contact: Dr. Hongwei Gao,

VIII. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH)

NARCH is an NIGMS-supported capacity building program. The overall goal is to support opportunities for conducting research and research training to meet the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. The NARCH program supports research projects prioritized by tribal communities. These projects address health issues disproportionately affecting the AI/AN communities, enhance health research partnerships, and reduce distrust of research by AI/AN communities while developing a cadre of scientists and health research professionals interested in AI/AN health. The Council approved reissue of the NARCH program funding announcement.

Contact: Dr. Sheila Caldwell,

IX. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)

The objective of the INBRE initiative is to augment and strengthen the biomedical research capacity of an IDeA-eligible state. The INBRE program represents a collaborative effort to support research between research-intensive institutions and institutes, primarily undergraduate institutions, community colleges, and tribally controlled colleges and universities, as appropriate. The goals of the INBRE program are to: 1) build on the established multidisciplinary research network with a scientific focus to strengthen the biomedical research expertise and infrastructure of the lead and partner institutions; 2) build and increase the research base and capacity by providing support to faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students at the participating institutions; 3) provide research opportunities for students from primarily undergraduate institutions, community colleges, and tribally controlled colleges and universities, and serve as a pipeline for these students to continue in health research careers within IDeA states; and 4) enhance science and technology knowledge of the state’s workforce. The Council approved reissue of the INBRE program funding announcement.

Contact: Dr. Krishan Arora,

X. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)

The goal of PREP is to enhance workforce diversity by encouraging individuals from underrepresented groups who hold a recent baccalaureate degree in a biomedically relevant area of study to pursue a research doctorate. The PREP funding opportunity has been active since 2000 (PAR-00-139) and has been reissued six times (PAR 03-140, 07-432, 12-056, 13-085, 14-076, 17-051). The Council approved reissue of the PREP funding announcement.

Contacts: Dr. Kenneth Gibbs,; Dr. Luis Cubano,

XI. Concept Clearance (Re-Issue): Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program

The PRAT program’s overarching goal is to provide high-quality postdoctoral research training in the basic biomedical sciences to a diverse group of postdoctoral fellows in NIH intramural research laboratories to prepare them for leadership positions in biomedical careers. This funding opportunity has been active since 2015 (PAR-15-094) and has been reissued once (PAR-16-130). The Council approved reissue of the PRAT funding announcement.

Contacts: Dr. Kenneth Gibbs,; Dr. Mercedes Rubio,

XII. Concept Clearances (Funding Opportunity Announcements): Biomedical Data Repository (UG5) and Biomedical Knowledgebases (U24)

Accessible, well-maintained, and efficiently operated data resources are critical enablers of modern biomedical research. Data resources, through good data management practices, are the key to data and knowledge discovery, integration, and data reuse, as outlined by the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable digital objects). A critical component for sustaining a healthy and productive data resource ecosystem is to ensure that each component: 1) delivers scientific impact to the communities they serve, 2) employs and promotes good data management practices for quality and services, 3) creates and maximizes efficiencies of operation, and 4) supports a process for data life-cycle analysis and governance. Dr. Susan Gregurick presented concept clearances for two trans-NIH initiatives to support the user service, utility, and efficiency of operations for biomedical data repositories that are important for the NIGMS mission. The Council approved issue of the Biomedical Data Repository (UG5 mechanism) and the Biomedical Knowledgebases (U24 mechanism) funding announcements.

Contact: Dr. Susan Gregurick,

XIII. Public Comment Period

Dr. Naomi Charalambakis, science policy analyst at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), thanked the Council for its continued support of basic research. She reported that FASEB recently issued a report on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that FASEB joined the Societies Combatting Sexual Harassment in STEMM Fields consortium of 77 professional societies working to advance professional and ethical conduct, climate, and culture toward ending sexual harassment. She also noted recent FASEB webinars on animal research. Finally, Dr. Charalambakis noted that the recently issued National Academies report on reproducibility and replicability in science reflected perspectives from the June 2017 FASEB workshop, “Responsible Communication of Basic Biomedical Research​.”


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:42 a.m. on May 17, 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


Erica Brown, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council