Advisory Council Minutes, January 26-27, 2017

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred sixty-third meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 26, 2017.

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 3:00 p.m. on January 26, the meeting was open to the public on January 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

Council Members Present

Goldie Byrd, Ph.D.
Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D.
Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D.
Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D.
William Gern, Ph.D.
Kaye Husbands Fealing, Ph.D.
Larry Overman, Ph.D.
Mark Peifer, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Sean Seymore, Ph.D., J.D.
Janet L. Smith, Ph.D.
Willem (Wilfred) A. van der Donk, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present

Darrin Akins, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research
College of Medicine
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Matthew Bennett, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biosciences
Rice University
Houston, TX 77005-1892

Sevinc Ercan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
New York University
New York, NY 10003-6688

Elizabeth Kovacs, Ph.D.
Director, Burn Research
Department of Surgery
University of Colorado Denver
Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, CO 80045

Sabeeha Merchant, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Director, Institute of Genomics and Proteomics
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569

Guy Padbury, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President
Preclinical Development
Merck Research Laboratories
West Point, PA 19486-0004

Cathy Wu, Ph.D.
Edward G. Jefferson Chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Departments of Computer & Information Sciences and Biological Sciences
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19711-5449

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Elizabeth Barksdale, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Julie Fabsik-Swarts, National Postdoctoral Association
Dr. Adam Fagen
Stephen Heinig, Association of American Medical Colleges
André Porter, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr. Erika Shugart, American Society for Cell Biology
Dr. Debra Speert, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Chris Yarosh, American Chemical Society

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 September 15-16, 2016, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 25-26, 2017                      Thursday-Friday
September 14-15, 2017          Thursday-Friday
January 18-19, 2018               Thursday-Friday

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report [PDF, 2,580KB]

Dr. Lorsch thanked the Council for their continued service and updated the group on staff hires and departures at NIGMS and NIH. He acknowledged the departure of Dr. Catherine Lewis and Ivan Waldman, both retiring from NIGMS, and noted the recent NIH departures of Dr. Phil Bourne and Dr. Kathy Hudson. He welcomed many new NIGMS staff, including Dr. Stephanie Constant, chief of the Office of Scientific Review, and Stephanie Older, chief of the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, and noted the selection of Dr. Rochelle Long as chief of the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry. He notified the Council of upcoming NIGMS-sponsored events including the April 5, 2017, NIGMS Director’s Early Career Investigator Lecture and a workshop on responsible communication of biomedical research that will be co-sponsored by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Both will be videocast publicly. Dr. Lorsch recognized two NIGMS grantee recipients of the recently announced Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers: Dr. Blake Wiedenheft of Montana State University and Dr. Aimee Shen of Tufts University. Dr. Lorsch then recounted a successful visit to IDeA grantees at the University of Kansas, and a neighboring high school in Lawrence, Kansas, with U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Dr. Lorsch presented programmatic and budget updates about the Institute, focusing on an upcoming expansion of the MIRA program and success rates for early-career, new and established investigators. Finally, he noted that a recent analysis determined that the number of NIGMS-funded (unique) investigators has been on a steady rise over the past 3 years.

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

V. Division of Biomedical Research Workforce: Background, Current and Future Priorities for Research Training, Education and Career Development [PDF, 1,884KB]

The Division of Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRW) was established in response to reports from the Advisory Committee to the Director working groups on the Biomedical Research Workforce Link to external Web site and the Physician Scientist Workforce Link to external Web site. Dr. P. Kay Lund, who has led DBRW since August 2015, provided an update on activities and programs. She summarized recent division activities including analysis of early outcomes of K99/R00 programs, evaluation and potential enhancements of benefits for Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award-supported postdocs and students, potential new pilot programs to recruit and retain physician scientists in research careers, and new resources including an extramural diversity website and a research training and career development website.

Contact: Dr. P. Kay Lund, 301-496-3255,

VI. Concept Clearance: NIGMS-Specific Predoctoral Training Program (T32) [PDF, 677KB]

NIGMS has a long-standing commitment to biomedical research training and currently supports about half of NIH-funded predoctoral training positions. Dr. Alison Gammie described plans to issue a revised predoctoral T32 funding announcement to enhance the Institute’s ability to promote and monitor the modernization of biomedical graduate education and to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research enterprise. Dr. Gammie noted that the new announcement will 1) emphasize the development of a diverse pool of well-trained scientists as the primary objective; 2) focus on skills development, rigor and reproducibility, responsible conduct, diversity and inclusion; 3) address conflicts in the incentive structure of the research enterprise and training; 4) require the use of evidence-based, innovative educational practices, and the collection and dissemination of data on the success/failure of interventions; 5) require improvements in career preparation and dissemination of career outcomes; and 6) align review criteria with training objectives and the program plan. She requested, and received, Council approval to issue the funding announcement with the projected date of first awards in July 2019.

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

VII. Concept Clearance: Collaborative Program Grants (RM1) [PDF, 381KB]

Many research questions in biomedical science can be pursued by single investigators and their close collaborators and are adequately supported by individual and multiple-PI R01 grants. However, complex research questions may require the integrated efforts of multiple research laboratories and collaboration between researchers with diverse areas of expertise. Dr. Peter Preusch requested, and received, Council approval to solicit Collaborative Program applications for highly integrative research teams of three to six investigators. The grants will address complex research questions through a single unified program of research; train and mentor new scientists; and affect scientific communities that would benefit from these types of coordinated activities. A key feature will be a required multiple-investigator management plan that assures participation of all members in making decisions.

Contacts: Dr. Susan Gregurick, 301-451-6446,; Dr. Peter Preusch, 301-594-0828,

VIII. Concept Clearance:  Science Policy Collaboration with NSF SciSIP Program [PDF, 381KB]

NIGMS has had a long-standing interest in understanding factors that affect the biomedical research enterprise, and since 2010 has supported the Scientific Workforce Analysis and Modeling (SWAM) program. In parallel, the NSF Social Behavioral and Economics (SBE) Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) Link to external Web site program funds research designed to advance the scientific basis of science and innovation policy and is a leading supporter of research in this field. Thus, NIGMS and NSF have compatible and complementary programmatic goals in these areas. Dr. Dorit Zuk requested, and received, Council approval to establish a joint SBE/NIGMS Initiative to support SciSIP research that will lead to a better understanding of the existing biomedical research enterprise; analyze inefficiencies and efficiencies with the goal of providing insights for improvement; and study the underlying dynamics of the workforce and its trainees by examining strategies for retaining and advancing highly skilled independent investigators and enhancing the diversity of the scientific workforce.

Contact: Dr. Dorit Zuk, 301-594-0943,

IX. Public Comment Period

Dr. Erika Shugart, executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), communicated the society’s great respect for, and collegial relationship with, NIGMS. She described ASCB’s current strategic-planning efforts that align well with NIGMS principles and told the Council that they are currently seeking input on the planning process. Dr. Shugart discussed ASCB’s current foci as 1) promoting the centrality of cell biology to biomedicine, toward more collaboration and bridging disciplines; 2) democratizing biomedicine; 3) endorsing career development and the availability of multiple career paths; 4) promoting the importance and value of science literacy and science policy; and 5) expanding the society’s funding sources.

Dr. Debra Speert, FASEB’s director of communications, affirmed the group’s longstanding positive and productive relationship with NIGMS, which recently has included efforts related to reproducibility in biomedicine. She also noted that FASEB has developed the Database of U.S. Providers of Research Organisms Link to external Web site, which is designed to help researchers searching for stock centers, living collections and commercial providers of research organisms. Dr. Speert told the Council that FASEB is requesting that resource users respond by March 2, 2017, to the survey of researchers’ experiences with shared research resources Link to external Web site.


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m. on January 27, 2017.


I hereby certify that to my knowledge the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete.


___________________                                  ______________________
Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D.                                         Ann A. Hagan, Ph.D.
Chair                                                                    Executive Secretary
National Advisory General                               National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council                               Medical Sciences Council