Advisory Council Minutes, February 2, 2023

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council convened in open session for its 181st meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 15, 2022. The meeting took place remotely.

Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. After an open session from 9:30 a.m. to 12:02 p.m., the closed session convened from 1:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Council Members Attending Remotely

Natalie Ahn, Ph.D.
Angela Byars-Winston, Ph.D.
Angela DePace, Ph.D.
Laura F. Gibson, Ph.D.
Ron G. King, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Terri Goss Kinzy, Ph.D.
Danielle Li, Ph.D.
David H. Mathews, M.D., Ph.D.
Lesilee Rose, Ph.D.
Amy Rosenzweig, Ph.D.
Melanie Sanford, Ph.D.
Pamela Stacks, Ph.D.

Ex-Officio Member Attending Remotely

Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.

Council Members Absent

Jeffrey Sun J.D., Ph.D.
Wendy Young, Ph.D.

Ad Hoc Council Participants Attending Remotely

Michael S. Chapman, Ph.D.
Wurdack Professor and Chair
Department of Biochemistry
School of Medicine and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211

Neil Garg, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Kenneth N. Trueblood Chair
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Laurie Kilpatrick, Ph.D.
Professor
Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Inflammation
Assistant Dean for Clinical Research
Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19140

Gerald Marschke, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Economics
University at Albany, State University of New York
Albany, NY 12222

Ad Hoc Early Career Investigators Attending Remotely

Catherine Fromen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716

Klarissa D. Jackson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics
Eshelman School of Pharmacy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Attending Remotely

Not tracked because meeting was available via unrestricted NIH videocast.

OPEN SESSION OF THE MEETING

I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

Dr. Lorsch thanked Council members for their service and welcomed guests. The minutes from the September 15, 2022, meeting were shared with council members.

II. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 18, 2023
September 7, 2023
February 1, 2024
Thursday (in person)
Thursday (virtual)
Thursday (virtual)

III. Review of Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Procedures

Dr. Lorsch explained policies and procedures regarding confidentiality and avoidance of conflict-of-interest situations to Council members.

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report

Dr. Lorsch recognized retiring Council member Laura F. Gibson, Ph.D., and introduced regular and early career ad hoc participants. He announced NIGMS and NIH staff changes, including the following:

  • Shawn Drew Gaillard, Ph.D., became director of the NIGMS Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in January.
  • Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed NIH deputy director for intramural research in the NIH Office of the Director.
  • Joni L. Rutter, Ph.D., was appointed director of NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
  • Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D., was appointed the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, an independent entity within NIH.
  • Roger I. Glass, M.D., Ph.D., retired as the director of the Fogarty International Center and NIH associate director for international research.
  • John I. Gallin, M.D., is retiring in March 2023 as the NIH associate director for clinical research and chief scientific officer of the Clinical Center.

Dr. Lorsch announced that recordings are available of the recent Judith H. Greenberg Early Career Investigator Lecture, with presenter César de la Fuente, Ph.D., and the DeWitt Stetten Jr. Lecture, with presenter Sally L. Hodder, M.D.

He recommended reading “MOSAIC Changes the Landscape,” an article on the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology website about the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers program

He shared that the Leading Equity and Advancing Diversity in the Medical Scientist Training Program (LEAD MSTP) funding announcement has been published. The program supports dual-degree clinician-scientist training to broaden the institutional and geographic distribution of NIGMS’ MSTP. Eligibility for the LEAD MSTP is limited to historically Black colleges and universities, Tribal colleges and universities, and institutions in Institutional Development Award (IDeA)-eligible states.

Dr. Lorsch presented an update on the Support for Research Excellence (SuRE) program, which replaced the Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) program in 2021. SuRE is an institutional program that emphasizes student participation in research, catalyzes the research culture at institutions, and broadens the participation of eligible institutions nationwide. Since launching the program, 60 applications were submitted from 37 institutions that had never participated in the SCORE program.

The SuRE resource center was awarded recently to the University of Kentucky. The center’s goal is to establish and strengthen office of sponsored projects aided through seed funding, which will provide training and mentoring to faculty investigators on writing and administering grant applications. The principal investigators (PIs), regional coordinators, and a steering committee of stakeholders will conduct nationwide outreach.

Dr. Lorsch provided an update on work NIGMS is doing to broaden support for IDeA states via partnerships with other NIH components. He mentioned one partnership with the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) to supplement IDeA awards for women’s health research and an ORWH-funded Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in women’s health research. Another partnership with the Office of Data Science Strategy (ODSS) and the NIH STRIDES initiative provides cloud computing training and cloud-based self-learning tools, which will go into a cloud-based “sandbox” where trainees and faculty can use them. ODSS also plans to consider funding a COBRE in data science for biomedical research.

Dr. Lorsch mentioned supplements that are part of a new NIH program supported by the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity. The program recognizes outstanding mentoring and contributions to enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the biomedical sciences. In 2022, 17 NIGMS grants received more than $3.7 million in DEIA mentorship supplements​​.

He next mentioned a new NIH advisory committee to the director working group on re-envisioning NIH-supported postdoctoral training. It’s charged with evaluating whether evidence exists for the perceived decline and shortage in Ph.D.s seeking U.S. postdoctoral training positions, and with documenting trends in Ph.D.s choosing nonacademic postgraduate employment. The working group will consider ways to increase support and retention of postdoctoral trainees on key issues related to quality-of-life and work-life balance, and will engage key parties, both internal and external to NIH, to better understand and strengthen the U.S. postdoctoral training system.

Lastly, getting the word out about programs, policies outcomes, data, and other related information has become increasingly difficult. Dr. Lorsch asked Council how NIGMS can improve communication with the research community.

V. DISCUSSION

Dr. Lorsch opened the floor to discussion.

Council members discussed the opportunity to broaden outreach by partnering with organizations such as the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and the American Association for State Colleges and Universities, which have national meetings and webinars.

Council members discussed whether there is a “postdoc crisis.” They noted that the expansion of the biotech sector is impacting the pool of eligible postdocs, and there are few faculty positions open to postdocs. A trend worth monitoring is that industry isn’t just recruiting postdocs, it’s increasingly recruiting master’s students and training them for jobs. If the goal is to maintain a productive scientific enterprise, the system needs to improve for grad students and postdocs. Encouraging institution-based programs that focus on wellness, mental health, and lifestyle factors that drive staying or leaving are important for helping postdocs to feel supported and included as valuable contributors to the research endeavor. Paying postdocs more is an often-discussed option, but not necessarily a feasible one, given the amount of money involved. How the postdoc landscape might look 3 to 4 years from now still needs consideration.

VI. Presentation: NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy

NIH implemented a new policy to promote sharing scientific data. Starting on January 25, NIH grantees must submit a data management and sharing (DMS) plan as part of their grant application. This only applies to competing applications. NIGMS believes that most of its grantees already meet the new NIH policy requirements, which are further explained in a list of FAQs. The DMS plans formalize what NIGMS PIs already do and make explicit their plans for sharing data with the larger scientific community. Most DMS plans are expected to be concise (no more than two pages). An optional template [DOC] is available. NIGMS staff will work with grantees to minimize the burden on PIs, while ensuring that the data generated are widely, fairly, and appropriately shared with the broad scientific community.

VII. Presentation: Council Working Group Requests for Upcoming NIGMS Evaluations

Commensurate with NIGMS’ priority of evaluating its programs, as documented in the 2021-2025 NIGMS strategic plan [PDF], the Institute received Council approval to convene two working groups to evaluate data for the following programs in 2023:

Bridges to the Baccalaureate (B2B): B2B supports programs for students in the biomedical sciences planning to transfer from community college (CC) to bachelor's degree-granting institutions. It includes partnerships between 2-year associate's degree-granting institutions/CCs and 4-year bachelor’s degree-granting institutions. Participating institutions develop/expand activities that support the transition and increase competitiveness for future careers. They also conduct self-assessments for rates of enrollment, transfer, research education experiences, and graduation of students from different groups relative to their institutional baseline.

IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE): INBRE supports state-wide networks for the development, coordination, and sharing of research resources and expertise. Each IDeA state has one INBRE award. Grants include administrative, data science, and research cores, along with developmental research project and student research experience programs. Networks include partnerships between research-intensive institutions and primarily undergraduate institutions, community colleges, and Tribally controlled colleges and universities.

CONCEPT CLEARANCES: REISSUANCES OF NIGMS PROGRAMS

VIII. Predoctor​al Diversity Enhancing Programs G-RISE and IMSD

These training grant (T32) programs provide support to eligible, domestic institutions to develop and implement effective, evidence-informed approaches to biomedical graduate training and mentoring. The programs target different institution types based on the NIH research project grant funding it’s received each year over the last 3 fiscal years:

  • Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) supports research-active institutions with less than $7.5 million in funding.
  • Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) supports research-intensive institutions with $7.5 million or more in funding.

There are no substantive changes from the previous funding announcements. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue these two notices of funding announcements (NOFOs).

IX. NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository

This grant supports a repository that acquires cell samples from healthy individuals and those affected by genetic disorders, and from distinct populations. It is a long-standing resource used by academia and industry.

There are no substantive changes from the previous funding opportunity. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue this NOFO.

X. A Science-of-Science Approach to Analyzing and Innovating the Biomedical Research Enterprise

This partnership between NIGMS and the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate within the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports a portfolio of research to provide scientific analysis of important aspects of the biomedical research enterprise and efforts to foster a diverse, innovative, productive, and efficient scientific workforce from which future research discoveries and scientific leaders will emerge. The name of the initiative has been updated (formerly SCISIPBIO) in alignment with the broader NSF Science of Science: Discovery, Communication, and Impact program.

There are no substantive changes from the previous funding announcement. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue this funding announcement. NSF will issue the solicitation, with an accompanying notice in the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts.

XI. Joint DMS/NIGMS Initiative to Support Research at the Interface of the Biological and Mathematical Sciences (BioMath)

This joint initiative from the NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences and NIGMS’ BioMath program supports fundamental research in mathematics and statistics to address questions in the biological and biomedical sciences. It brings mathematicians and statisticians into the NIGMS funding ecosystem.

There are no substantive changes from the previous funding announcement. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue this funding announcement. NSF will issue the solicitation, with an accompanying notice in the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts.

XII. Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank

The Protein Data Bank (PDB) serves as the primary international repository for experimentally determined macromolecular structural data, including proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, peptides, and viruses. It’s a defined repository with clear standards that the scientific community can use to organize, store, and share their structural data. NIGMS provides support for the PDB, in partnership with NSF, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infective Diseases, and the Department of Energy.

There are no substantive changes from the previous funding announcement. NIGMS received Council approval to reissue this funding announcement. NSF will issue the solicitation, with an accompanying notice in the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts.

CONCEPT CLEARANCE: NEW PROGRAM

XIII. UNITE Research Capacity Building Program to Enhance Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce

This is an NIH-wide research capacity program intended for institutions limited in capacity and faculty and/or students to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. It addresses challenges that these institutions face, such as:

  • Maintaining capacity after a single round of grant funding
  • Having difficulties in hiring, training, and retention among sponsored programs and research development personnel
  • Offering additional support beyond sponsored programs development, such as providing pilot research funding or decreasing extensive teaching loads to get preliminary data and to write grants

NIGMS has considerable expertise in research capacity building and recognizes that offices of sponsored programs (OSP), which provide support services for faculty and staff as they pursue and manage external funding projects, are often under-resourced in smaller, less research-intensive institutions. Institutions will be required to propose plans to advance their capacity along the research capacity continuum at a realistic pace. There are two components: research and sponsored programs. Eligible institutions can apply for one or both components, and partnerships among institutions—such as the sharing of OSP functions, as an example—are encouraged.

This program challenges the current culture of how small institutions administer research. The program stresses the importance of faculty doing research with students (as opposed to over-focusing on teaching), which enhances a student’s ability to continue in a research career. The cultural change that needs attention will be huge at some institutions.

Possible suggestions from Council include:

  • A mentor program to pair staff from well-resourced universities with those at under-resourced institutions could prove useful.
  • A resource center could be funded and staffed with an experienced workforce of consultants/mentors to fledgling OSPs.
  • Opportunities to embed faculty from research-intensive institutions into those that are teaching-intensive could create cross-pollination and be incentivized with a sabbatical program.

NIGMS received Council approval to issue this NOFO.

CLOSED SESSION OF THE MEETING

This session of the meeting was closed to the public, as it concerned matters exempt from mandatory disclosures under Sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5, U.S.C. and Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act as amended (5 U.S.C. Appendix 2).

Members exited the meeting during the discussion and voting process on applications from their own institutions or other applications that presented a potential conflict of interest, real or apparent. Members signed a statement to this effect.

REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences considered 977 research and training applications requesting $476,042,732 in total costs. The Council recommended 977 applications with a total cost of $476,042,732.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m. on February 2, 2023.

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