Advisory Council Minutes, January 22-23, 2015

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred fifty-seventh meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 22, 2015.

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 8:31 a.m. to 4:21 p.m. on January 22, the meeting was open to the public on January 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:32 p.m.

Council Members Present

Gail E. Besner, M.D.
Henry T. Greely, J.D.
Alan (Rick) F. Horwitz, Ph.D.
Richard L. Lalonde, Pharm.D.
Scott J. Miller, Ph.D.
Marc A. Nivet, Ed.D.
Margaret C. Werner-Washburne, Ph.D.
Holly A. Wichman, Ph.D.

Council Members Absent


Special Consultants Present

John C. Alverdy, M.D.
Sara and Harold Lincoln Thompson Professor of Surgery
Executive Vice Chair
Department of Surgery
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637

Bonnie Berger, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139

Goldie S. Byrd, Ph.D.
Nathan F. Simms Endowed Professor of Biology
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
North Carolina A&T State University
Greensboro, NC 27411

Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D.
Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity, and Inclusion
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Education
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912

Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D.
Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston
Houston, TX 77030

Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D.
Ralph F. Hirschmann Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706-1396

Arthur Gutierrez-Hartmann, M.D.
Associate Dean for Research Education, School of Medicine
Director, Medical Scientist Training Program
Director, Physician Scientist Residency Training Program
Professor, Departments of Medicine and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, CO 80045

Amy Pasquinelli, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chair
Department of Molecular Biology
Division of Biology
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093

Mark Peifer, Ph.D.
Hooker Distinguished Professor
Department of Biology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Sandra Schmid, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Cell Biology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX 75390

Janet L. Smith, Ph.D.
Margaret J. Hunter Collegiate Professor in the Life Sciences
Professor of Biological Chemistry
Life Sciences Institute
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2216

Wilfred A. van der Donk, Ph.D.
Richard E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Stephanie DeLuca, American Chemical Society
Dr. Adam Fagen, Genetics Society of America
Dr. Howard Garrison, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Jason Geng, Xigen, LLC
Dr. Leemor Joshua-Tor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Kevin Wilson, American Society for Cell Biology

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 then introduced the special consultants: John C. Alverdy, M.D., Sara and Harold Lincoln Thompson Professor of Surgery and executive vice chair, Department of Surgery, University of Chicago; Bonnie Berger, Ph.D., professor of mathematics, and electrical engineering and computer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Goldie S. Byrd, Ph.D., Nathan F. Simms Endowed Professor of Biology and dean, College of Arts and Sciences, North Carolina A&T State University; Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D., vice president for academic development, diversity, and inclusion, and adjunct assistant professor, Department of Education, Brown University; Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D., professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D., Ralph F. Hirschmann Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Arthur Gutierrez-Hartmann, M.D., associate dean for research education, School of Medicine, director, Medical Scientist Training Program and Physician Scientist Residency Training Program, and professor, Department of Medicine and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; Amy Pasquinelli, Ph.D., professor and vice chair, Department of Molecular Biology, University of California, San Diego; Mark Peifer, Ph.D., Hooker Distinguished Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Sandra Schmid, Ph.D., professor and vice chair, Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Janet L. Smith, Ph.D., Margaret J. Hunter Collegiate Professor in the Life Sciences and professor of biological chemistry, Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan; Wilfred A. van der Donk, Ph.D., Richard E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Lorsch then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the September 18-19, 2014, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 21-22, 2015 Thursday-Friday
September 17-18, 2015 Thursday-Friday
January 28-29, 2016 Thursday-Friday

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report

Dr. Lorsch thanked the Council members for their continued service, and he acknowledged the hard work of NIGMS staff that goes into planning and executing every Council meeting. He updated the group on staff hires and departures at NIGMS, noting that Dr. Judith H. Greenberg has been selected as the new NIGMS deputy director. Dr. Lorsch told the Council about a proposed organizational change at NIGMS: creation of a Center for Research Capacity Building, which would house selected programs currently residing within the Institute’s Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. He alerted the group about two new funding-related activities, the imminent Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) funding opportunity announcement and the newly released guidelines for funding investigators with substantial unrestricted research support. Dr. Lorsch concluded by underscoring the importance of diversity and balance in the NIGMS research portfolio, noting that sustaining biomedical research in the current challenging fiscal climate is a shared responsibility.

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

V. Report: Recommendations for Continued Investment in Structural Biology Following the Sunsetting of the Protein Structure Initiative

In September 2013, Dr. Lorsch commissioned two committees to develop recommendations for the Institute’s future support of structural biology. The NIGMS Future of Structural Biology Committees assembled expertise in both the practice of structural biology as a field and its impact on other researchers. An external committee included structural biology practitioners and researchers who use structural biology data and resources in their work. NIGMS asked that group to focus primarily on articulating community needs and suggesting emerging challenges and opportunities in structural biology. An internal committee, composed of NIH staff, provided a complementary perspective in those areas and developed recommendations for implementation of the priorities identified by the external committee. The committees worked closely together and summarized their findings in a written report. Dr. Leemor Joshua-Tor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, one of the committee co-chairs, presented the report’s findings.

Contact: Dr. Leemor Joshua-Tor,, 516-367-8821

VI. Presentation: NIH as a Digital Enterprise

Biomedical research is becoming more digital and more analytical as the amount of data increases. In recognition, NIH created the position of associate director for data science, reporting directly to the NIH director. The first full-time holder of that position, Dr. Philip Bourne, described a strategy and associated initiatives NIH is undertaking to meet the challenges and opportunities of this changing environment. Noting that one such challenge is sustainability, Dr. Bourne emphasized it as a special focus and one of particular concern to the NIGMS community.

Contact: Dr. Philip E. Bourne,, 301-496-0786

VII. Update: NIGMS Office of Program Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation

The NIGMS Office of Program Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation (OPAE) is undergoing both structural and functional expansion in order to enhance the Institute’s data-gathering and analysis capabilities. Newly hired OPAE Director Dr. Richard Aragon briefly updated the Council on the status of OPAE’s growth, noting six key functional areas: strategic planning, data collection and analysis, program evaluation, portfolio analysis, legislative reporting and accountability.

Contact: Dr. Richard Aragon,, 301-594-2762

VIII. Report: Diversity Supplement Program Outcomes

Dr. Alison Hall, acting director of the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, presented outcomes data from the NIGMS diversity supplement award program, a longstanding effort that enables NIGMS grantees to support researchers from underrepresented groups on their R01 grants, using additional funds. She discussed metrics of a recent evaluation of this program (from 1989 to 2006) including career-sector-related outcomes and the number of Ph.D. completions for graduate students supported on diversity supplement awards.

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

IX. Presentation: 2015-2020 Strategic Plan for NIGMS

Dr. Richard Aragon updated the Council on the latest draft of NIGMS’ 5-year strategic plan. He presented an overview of the goals, objectives and implementation strategies, as well as overarching themes. After presenting this overview, Dr. Aragon solicited from the Council relevant feedback and discussion of the content of the plan and next steps.

Contact: Dr. Richard Aragon,, 301-594-2762

X. Public Comment Period

Dr. Adam Fagen, executive director of the Genetics Society of America (GSA), stated that GSA resonates with NIGMS’ foci on investigator-initiated grant support and the need for data analytics toward Institute planning. He noted recent GSA activities that include: development of a basic research resource guide to help inform stakeholders, an upcoming allied genetics conference at which several model-organism communities will gather together and a member survey on funding-related issues.

Dr. Howard Garrison, deputy executive director for policy and director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), highlighted the society’s recent report, Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences. He stated that the report aligns well with the NIGMS 2015-2020 draft strategic plan. Dr. Garrison reiterated that FASEB continues its advocacy efforts, including creating awareness materials for scientists to use in communicating about the value of biomedical research.


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


The meeting adjourned at 12:32 p.m. on January 23, 2015.


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