Advisory Council Minutes, January 27-28, 2011

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred forty-fifth meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 27, 2011.

Dr. Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. Dr. Lawrence Tabak, principal deputy director, National Institutes of Health (NIH), presided over the discussions of applications during the closed session. After a closed session from 8:38 a.m. to 4:35 p.m. on January 27, the meeting was open to the public on January 28 from 8:05 a.m. to 1:03 p.m.

Council Members Present:

Michael D. Caldwell, M.D., Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Luisa DiPietro, D.D.S., Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Mariano Garcia-Blanco, M.D., Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Howard H. Garrison, Ph.D.
John E. Johnson, Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Karolin Luger, Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Jeffrey Mason, Ph.D.
David O. Meltzer, M.D., Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
Denise J. Montell, Ph.D.
Robert F. Murphy, Ph.D.
W. James Nelson, Ph.D. (via telephone conference)
James L. Stevens, Ph.D. (via telephone conference)

Members Absent:

Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Ph.D.
Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present:

Jay C. Dunlap, Ph.D.
Nathan Smith Professor
Chairman, Department of Genetics
Dartmouth Medical School
Hanover, NH 03755-3844

Lawrence J. Marnett, Ph.D.
Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research
Professor of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacology
Director, Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology
Department of Biochemistry
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Nashville, TN 37232-0146

Scott J. Miller, Ph.D.
Irénée DuPont Professor of Chemistry
Chairperson, Department of Chemistry
Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520-8107

Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D.
Professor and Ruth Merns Chair
Department of Biochemistry
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Yeshiva University
Bronx, NY 10461

Peter Sorger, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Systems Biology
Harvard Medical School
Professor of Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Boston, MA 02115

Council roster (available from NIGMS).

Members of the Public Present:

Dr. Ryan Davison, American Chemical Society
Dr. Arthur D. Lander, University of California, Irvine
Mr. Mark Meytin, Highrise Consulting, Inc.
Dr. Donna J. Nelson, University of Oklahoma
Ms. Lori Pellnitz, SRI
Dr. Ellen Weiss, Biophysical Society

Federal Employees Present:

Dr. Richard Rodewald, National Science Foundation
Dr. Shelley Sazor, National Science Foundation

NIGMS and other NIH employees:

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


I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

Dr. Berg thanked the regular members of the Council who were present and then introduced the special consultants: Jay C. Dunlap, Ph.D., professor, Department of Genetics, Dartmouth Medical School; Lawrence J. Marnett, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Scott J. Miller, Ph.D., professor, Department of Chemistry, Yale University; Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biochemistry, Yeshiva University; and Peter Sorger, Ph.D., professor, Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, and professor of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Berg then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the September 20-21, 2010, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 19-20, 2011
September 15-16, 2011
January 19-20, 2012

IV. Council Operating Procedures

As is required each year, the Council approved its operating procedures. There were no substantial changes from previous years.

V. Report from the Director, NIGMS

Dr. Berg announced the appointments of Kathy Hudson, Ph.D., as deputy director for science, outreach, and policy, NIH Office of the Director, and former NIGMS Program Director Richard Ikeda, Ph.D., as director of the Office of Research Information Systems in the NIH Office of Extramural Research. Dr. Berg also noted the retirement of Barry Kramer, M.D., the long-time NIH associate director for disease prevention.

Dr. Berg announced the appointments of Michelle Hamlet, Ph.D.; Stefan Maas, Ph.D.; and Barbara Gerratana, Ph.D., as NIGMS program directors.

Dr. Berg noted that long-time NIGMS grantee Ei-ichi Negishi, Ph.D., was one the recipients of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

VI. Update from the NIGMS Director

Dr. Jeremy Berg updated the Council on various NIH and NIGMS activities and issues, including his previously announced late June 2011 departure to the University of Pittsburgh. He again provided an update on the planned establishment of a new NIH component, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and the planned abolishment of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Considerable debate and concern have arisen over these proposed actions, including the fate of programs/staff that would migrate to other institutes, including NIGMS, as a result of the reorganization. Council members expressed an interest in writing to appropriate authorities to voice their support for NCRR programs, and their concerns about potential negative impacts of incorporating these programs into NIGMS.

Contact: Dr. Jeremy Berg,, 301-594-2172

VII. Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, NIH, and the Common Fund

Dr. James Anderson, director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI), described the Division's origin and mission, primarily focusing on the Division's trans-NIH research programs supported by the Common Fund. DPCPSI's mission includes identifying emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges and scientific knowledge gaps that merit further research. In addition to planning and implementing trans-NIH initiatives supported by the Common Fund, the Division coordinates research related to AIDS, behavioral and social sciences, women's health and disease prevention. Dr. Anderson described the process by which Common Fund projects are identified and implemented, using as examples projects administered with NIGMS.

Contact: Dr. James Anderson, 301-402-9852

VIII. Discussion: NIGMS Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training

In 2010, the Institute launched a thorough process to examine its activities and general philosophy of research training that culminated in the January 2011 draft NIGMS Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Traini​ng submitted to Council for review. Dr. Berg explained that the plan presents a visionary approach to considering the needs of predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees in formal training programs, as well as those supported via research grants. Dr. Berg explained that while the plan will not represent a tactical roadmap, implementation steps will ensue rapidly once the plan is final, following a 3-week public comment period beginning January 28, 2011.

Contacts: Dr. Jeremy Berg,, 301-594-2172; Dr. Judith Greenberg,, 301-594-0943

IX. Systems Biology Centers: Report from the Front

NIGMS currently supports 12 National Centers for Systems Biology. Although each has its own research focus, training activities and outreach strategies, these centers collectively serve the purpose of providing national and international scientific leadership during a period of transformative change in biology and medicine. Dr. Arthur Lander of the University of California, Irvine, reported on some of the activities going on at the Center for Complex Biological Systems as well as at its sister centers.

Contact: Dr. Arthur D. Lander, Center for Complex Biological Systems, University of California, Irvine,, 949-824-1721

X. Concept Clearances: Macromolecular Interactions in Cells (Competitive Revisions and Partnerships)

Higher-order functions in cells depend upon precise organization and coordination of macromolecules and processes in space and time. Deeper understanding of these events in living cells calls for new quantitative and systems analyses methods that unite and reconcile current microscopic, genomic and proteomic approaches. Dr. James Deatherage requested, and received, Council approval to issue two funding announcements to expand the conceptual and technical scope and capabilities of NIGMS-funded projects in this area. One solicitation will seek competitive revisions of currently funded NIGMS R01 or R37 projects, while the other seeks applications for inter-institutional partnerships.

Contacts: Dr. Ann Hagan,, 301-594-4499; Dr. James Deatherage,, 301-594-3828

XI. Presentation: Faculty Demographics: A Look at Science and Engineering

Dr. Donna J. Nelson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, presented to the Council her research on ethnic and gender diversity among highly ranked science departments of research universities. Dr. Nelson's Diversity Surveys collected data on tenured and tenure-track university faculty members of the "top 50" departments in each of 14 science and engineering disciplines. She noted that the data represent complete populations, not samples, and thus accurately reveal small numbers or complete absences of individuals from underrepresented groups. Dr. Nelson stated that her findings also support grouping disciplines according to common characteristics and deficits—rather than lumping them all together or all separately—when considering strategies to rectify underrepresentation.

Contact: Dr. Donna J. Nelson, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma,, 405-325-2288

XII. Presentation: Proteomic Studies of Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded Archival Tissues

Proteomic analysis of fresh or frozen tissues cannot be related directly to the clinical course of diseases. This could be accomplished using archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, but proteomic studies using FFPE tissues are fraught with challenges. Dr. Jeffrey Mason of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Maryland, presented a new method using elevated hydrostatic pressure that overcomes these obstacles, resulting in FFPE proteomic profiles that are almost identical to those obtained using the corresponding fresh tissues. Dr. Mason predicted that the new technique promises to open up the vast archives of stored tissue specimens to retrospective studies of diseases using modern, high-throughput proteomic methods.

Contact: Dr. Jeffrey Mason, Department of Biophysics, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology,, 301-319-0043


XIV. Review of Applications

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


The meeting adjourned at 1:03 p.m. on January 28, 2011.


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

Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D.
National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council
Ann A. Hagan, Ph.D
Executive Secretary National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council