Advisory Council Minutes, January 18-19, 2018

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred sixty-sixth meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 18, 2018.

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 8:30 a.m. to 4:39 p.m. on January 18, the meeting was open to the public on January 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Council Members Present

Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D.
Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D.
Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D.
William Gern, Ph.D.
Sabeeha Merchant, Ph.D.
Larry Overman, Ph.D.
Guy Padbury, Ph.D.
Mark Peifer, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Janet L. Smith, Ph.D.
Willem (Wilfred) A. van der Donk, Ph.D.
Cathy Wu, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present

Demet Araç-Ozkan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Gordon Center for Integrative Science
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637

Celeste Berg, Ph.D.
Department of Genome Sciences and Molecular and Cellular Biology Program
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-5065

Matthew Torres, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Co-Director Systems Mass Spectrometry Facility
School of Biological Sciences
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332

Claire Walczak, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Assistant Director of Research
Medical Sciences Program
Indiana University School of Medicine
Indiana University – Bloomington
Bloomington, IN 47405

John Younger, M.D., M.S.
Chief Technology Officer
Akadeum Life Sciences, Inc.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Bethany Drehman, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Adam Fagen
Dr. Howard Garrison, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Sheenah Mische, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
André Porter, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr. Yvette Seger, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Jen Sizemore, Columbus Tech
Dr. Irena Tartakovsky, Association of American Medical Colleges
Kevin Wilson, American Society for Cell Biology
Dr. Jodi Yellen, Association of American Medical Colleges

NIGMS and Other NIH Employees

Please see the sign-in sheet (available from NIGMS)

Other Federal Employees Present

Rachael Tracy, Indian Health Service
Dr. Junping Wang, National Science Foundation


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 14-15, 2017, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 24-25, 2018 Thursday-Friday
September 13-14, 2018 Thursday-Friday
January 24-25, 2019 Thursday-Friday

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. He noted recent NIGMS staff hires and departures; NIGMS-developed lay-oriented publications, such as Findings magazine; and four NIGMS Twitter feeds. Dr. Lorsch reminded the Council that NIGMS provided substantial support for four 2017 Nobel laureates, and he also spoke to comments from Dr. Göran Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (that awards the Nobels), on the important role of U.S. support for foundational research. Dr. Lorsch invited Council members to attend and promote two upcoming events: the third annual NIGMS Director’s Early Career Investigator Lecture featuring Dr. Jeramiah Smith, and the 2018 DeWitt Stetten Jr. Lecture featuring Dr. Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado. He announced that the NIGMS reorganization is now final, reducing the number of scientific divisions from four to three; elevating the status of the capacity-building center to a division; and transferring the NIH Office of Emergency Care Research to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Finally, Dr. Lorsch described the nascent NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science, a Congressionally mandated plan due in May 2018. He invited Council discussion on the plan, which aims to modernize the NIH data-resource ecosystem, enhance data sharing/access, optimize efficiency of operations, and promote adherence to the FAIR principles. The Council was supportive of the intent and progress of the draft strategic plan.

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

V. Overview: FASEB Report on Maximizing Shared Research Resources

Shared research resources—from core facilities to living collections and national laboratories—broaden researchers’ access to advanced technologies and materials and also make efficient use of funds. However, shared resource providers face challenges that limit their ability to offer cutting-edge services. Dr. Sheenah Mische, co-chair of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) subcommittee that prepared the report, “Maximizing Shared Research Resources,” presented the results of a survey of resource users and providers as well as FASEB’s recommendations to leverage shared resources.

Contact: Dr. Sheenah Mische,, 301-634-7650

VI. Presentation: History and Outcomes of NIGMS SBIR/STTR Funding

NIGMS has funded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants since these programs began in fiscal years 1983 and 1994, respectively. While there have been NIH-wide assessments of SBIR and STTR programs, until now there has not been an in-depth review focused on long-term outcomes of NIGMS funding. Dr. James Onken presented an analysis of NIGMS funding for the SBIR and STTR programs and long-term outcomes of the firms supported. He also presented information on characteristics of firms receiving support from NIGMS, awarded patents acknowledging NIGMS SBIR/STTR support, and survival of grantee firms.

Contact: Dr. James Onken,, 240-271-7168

VII. Concept Clearance: Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Phases I and II

Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), one of four initiatives supported through the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program, builds biomedical research capacity in states and jurisdictions that have traditionally lagged in NIH funding. COBRE consists of three sequential 5-year phases. Phase I focuses on developing research infrastructure and providing junior investigators with formal mentoring and research-project funding to help them acquire preliminary data and successfully compete for independent research grant support. Phase II is intended to strengthen centers through further improvements in research infrastructure and to continue development and support of a critical mass of investigators with shared scientific interests. Phase III provides support for maintaining COBRE research cores developed during Phases I and II and transitioning them to independence from IDeA funding. The FOA for COBRE Phase I expires in January 2019, and the FOA for COBRE Phase II expires in September 2018. To continue this Congressionally mandated program, Dr. Lorsch requested, and received, Council approval to reissue FOAs for COBRE Phases I and II.

Contact: Dr. Yanping Liu,, 301-451-4217

VIII. Concept Clearance: NIGMS Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to developing the next generation of physician scientists through the M.D.-Ph.D. dual degree Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Dr. Stefan Maas described plans to issue a revised T32 funding announcement that will enhance the Institute’s ability to promote and monitor the development of a diverse pool of physician-scientist leaders across the biomedical research enterprise. The new announcement will 1) emphasize skills development, rigor and reproducibility, ethical responsibility, and integrity; 2) require the use of evidence-based, innovative training approaches; 3) expect plans for evaluation of training activities and the collection and dissemination of outcomes data; 4) focus on dual-degree training. Dr. Maas requested, and received, Council approval to craft a revised funding announcement with a projected date for first awards in July 2020.

Contact: Dr. Stefan Maas,, 301-594-0943

IX. Concept Clearance: Research to Understand and Inform Interventions that Promote the Research Careers of Students in the Biomedical Sciences (R01)

From 2007 to 2014, NIGMS solicited research proposals to test assumptions and hypotheses on social and behavioral factors that inform interventions intended to increase interest, motivation, and preparedness for careers in biomedical research. Dr. Michael Sesma noted a significant drop in the number of applications on interventions since the funding announcement expired. Additionally, because without a funding announcement and an NIGMS-organized review panel, the applications that still do come in are reviewed within a standard R01-review panel that often lacks expertise in this type of research. Dr. Sesma requested, and received, Council approval to issue a funding announcement to stimulate research that will test training and mentoring interventions, especially those designed to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce, that can be integrated within research training activities supported by NIH or other agencies or organizations.

Contact: Dr. Michael Sesma,, 301-594-2772

X. Public Comment Period

Kevin Wilson, director of public policy and media relations at the American Society for Cell Biology, provided updates on recent society activities, including continued efforts of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, a policy task force on model organisms, and newly announced public engagement grants aiming to improve science awareness and literacy by partnering with communities. He also announced a new phase for the Life: Magnified program, launched in 2013 in partnership with NIGMS. In collaboration with the U.S. State Department, the next phase of the program will feature images of American scientists at a wide range of open spaces across the world.

Dr. Yvette Seger, director of science policy at FASEB, updated the Council on the society’s continued work on policies and issues related to shared research resources, as presented earlier to the Council by Dr. Sheenah Mische. She also mentioned a recently released report on animal research regulations, in which FASEB collaborated with other societies toward streamlining use regulations. Dr. Seger informed the Council that FASEB (in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute), is hosting a February 12, 2018, workshop for applicants interested in NIGMS’ recently issued revised predoctoral T32 program funding announcement. Finally, she encouraged nominations for the 2019 FASEB \Excellence in Science Award​, which recognizes outstanding achievement by women in biological science with an unrestricted $10,000 grant.


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m. on January 19, 2018.


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