Advisory Council Minutes, January 23-24, 2003

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred twenty-first meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 23, 2003. Dr. Judith Greenberg, acting director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. The meeting was closed to the public on January 23 from 8:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m. for consideration of grant applications. The meeting was open to the public on January 24 from 8:44 a.m. to 11:02 a.m.

Council Members Present:

John N. Abelson, Ph.D.
Robert L. Becker, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.
Jay C. Dunlap, Ph.D.
Ira Herskowitz, Ph.D.
George C. Hill, Ph.D.
Corey Largman, Ph.D.
Eaton E. Lattman, Ph.D.
Douglas A. Lauffenburger, Ph.D.
Shelagh M. Ferguson-Miller, Ph.D.
Theodora E. Joan Robinson, Ph.D.
Debra A. Schwinn, M.D.
Susan S. Taylor, Ph.D.
Yu-li Wang, Ph.D.
Richard M. Weinshilboum, M.D.

Members Absent:

Laura Roberts, M.D.
D. Amy Trainor, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present:

Steven Zimmerman, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL

Council roster (available from NIGMS).

Members of the Public Present:

Mr. James Bernstein, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Ms. Natalie Ochs, The Blue Sheet

Federal Employees Present:

Dr. Robert Coyne, National Science Foundation
Dr Karl Koehler, National Science Foundation
Dr. Sharman O'Neill, National Science Foundation
Dr. Reynaldo Patino, National Science Foundation
Dr. Joanne Tornow, National Science Foundation

NIGMS Employees and Other NIH employees:

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


I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

Dr. Judith Greenberg called the meeting to order. She introduced the four new members of Council: Dr. Shelagh Ferguson-Miller, professor of biochemistry and associate chair of the Department of Biochemistry, Michigan State University; Dr. Joan Robinson, professor, School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Morgan State University; Dr. Yu-li Wang, professor, Department of Physiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School; and Dr. Robert Becker, director, Division of Quantitative Pathology and associate chairman, Department of Cellular Pathology and Genetics of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Dr. Greenberg also welcomed the guests and ad hoc participant Dr. Steven Zimmerman, professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the September 12-13, 2002 meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

May 15-16, 2003
September 11-12, 2003
January 22-23, 2004
May 13-14, 2004

IV. Report from the Acting Director, NIGMS

Dr. Greenberg announced several staff appointments in NIGMS. Dr. Hinda Zlotnik, a program director in the Minority Opportunities in Research Division, has been named chief of the Division's Minority Biomedical Research Support Branch, and Dr. Kent Peters and Dr. Brian Pike recently joined the Office of Scientific Review as scientific review administrators. In recent NIH appointments, NIH Deputy Director Dr. Ruth L. Kirschstein has transitioned to the role of senior advisor to the NIH Director, Dr. Nora D. Volkow has been named director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Donna J. Dean has been appointed the first deputy director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Dr. Alan Guttmacher has been appointed deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and Dr. Belinda Seto was named acting NIH deputy director for extramural research following the departure of Dr. Wendy Baldwin.

Dr. Greenberg also announced that Dr. Mark McClellan was appointed Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in October and that Dr. Greg Koski resigned from his position as the first director of the HHS Office of Human Research Protections in late November.

Dr. Greenberg was pleased to report that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to long-time NIGMS grantee Dr. H. Robert Horvitz from MIT and that the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Dr. John Fenn of Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Fenn was supported by NIGMS from 1984 to 1994, during the time he did his research that led to the prize. Several NIGMS grantees, including Council member Dr. Ira Herskowitz, received awards from the Genetics Society of America, and Dr. Bonnie Bassler, an NIGMS grantee at Princeton University, received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. Finally, Dr. Greenberg mentioned that NIGMS was very proud to have supported nearly all the research that led to RNA being cited as Science magazine's "Breakthrough" of the Year.

Dr. Greenberg provided data showing that NIGMS' support for new investigators has been increasing each year since 1997, when the R29 awards were phased out, and at a faster rate than support for all investigators.

V. Update: Visions Meeting

Dr. Greenberg reported on the "Visions of the Future" meeting that NIGMS held on September 23-24, 2002. Themes that emerged from the meeting included predictive models of cells, tissues, and organisms; the mathematization of biology; tool development; comparative genomics; and interdisciplinary science. Dr. Greenberg described some activities that are already underway to address these areas and solicited advice from the Council. Much of the discussion focused on training, which will be on the agenda of the May Council meeting.

VI. Update: NIH Roadmap Process

Dr. Greenberg updated the Council on the NIH Roadmap process. In August 2002, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director, NIH, convened a series of meetings at which scientists were asked to identify novel fields and novel ways of conducting research, to identify initiatives that will accelerate translation of promising opportunities in the clinical arena, and to identify ways to stimulate synergy between various disciplines and technologies. Many of the issues raised in the Roadmap meetings are similar to those that arose at NIGMS' Visions of the Future meeting, and NIGMS staff are participating in the NIH-wide development of a series of Roadmap initiatives.

VII. Council Operating Procedures 2003

As is required each year, the Council was asked to approve its operating procedures. With the exception of the addition of a reference to the new Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, the proposed procedures were unchanged from last year.

VIII. Report: Protein Structure Initiative Annual Meeting

Dr. John Norvell of the NIGMS Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics described the November 14-15, 2002, meeting of the NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative (PSI). This was a joint meeting of the nine principal investigators (PIs) of the PSI research centers and the ten members of the PSI Advisory Committee (PSIAC), which is a working group of the Council. During the first day, the PIs gave overviews of their projects and described bottlenecks and experiences that were relevant for the second (production) phase of the PSI. The PSIAC and NIGMS staff met on the second day to discuss future plans for the PSI. All members of the PSIAC expressed praise for the progress that the research centers have made in constructing a structural genomics pipeline. Improvements in the automation of cloning, expression, and structure determination were noted, with benefit to both the PSI and all structural biology projects.

IX. Concept Clearance: PSI Supplements

Dr. Charles Edmonds of the NIGMS Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics described plans for a short-turnaround administrative supplement program suggested by members of the PSIAC. This program is intended to support the discovery of functional information about the proteins whose structures are generated by the PSI. Supplemental funding will be provided to collaborating investigators with expertise in protein function to enable rapid completion of high-value experimental studies related to a high-resolution structure or structures determined by the PSI. Supplements will be for up to $50,000 in direct costs for one year. The impact of such supplements will be to integrate more closely and promptly the valuable intermediate products of the PSI with the broader scientific enterprise supported by NIGMS and NIH. The Council approved the proposed supplement program.

X. Update on the Pharmacogenetics Research Network and PharmGKB

Dr. Rochelle Long of the NIGMS Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry presented a scientific progress report on the Pharmacogenetics Research Network (PGRN) and Knowledge Base (PharmGKB). The PGRN is described at, and PharmGKB. Dr. Long described the scope of the PGRN research groups, the network's scientific accomplishments to date, and strategies that are under way for future interactions among network scientists. She also reviewed the status of PharmGKB, summarized its present data contents, and described its plans for expansion. The next meeting of the PGRN is scheduled for March 3, 2003, in Memphis, Tennessee. This meeting is open to the scientific public; for more information.

XI. Council Initiated Discussion

Discussion centered on recruitment of underrepresented minority students onto training grants. NIGMS staff tracks and reports periodically to the Council information on recruitment efforts. In response to Council's request, Dr. Greenberg promised that staff would provide a full report at the May Council meeting.


XVII. Review of Applications

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


The meeting adjourned at 11:02 a.m. on Friday, January 24, 2003.


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

Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D.
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council
Norka Ruiz Bravo, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council