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The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council
was convened in closed session for its one hundred thirty-fourth
meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 17, 2007.
Dr. Jeremy Berg, 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 4:45 p.m. on May 17, the
meeting was open to the public on May 18 from 8:35 a.m. to 12:30
Council Members Present:
Francine D. Berman, Ph.D.
Stanley Fields, Ph.D.
Edwin S. Flores, Ph.D., J.D.
Kathleen M. Giacomini, Ph.D.
Clifford W. Houston, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Mason, Ph.D.
Brian W. Matthews, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Richard I. Morimoto, Ph.D.
W. James Nelson, Ph.D.
Timothy O'Leary, M.D., Ph.D.
Gregory R. Reyes, M.D., Ph.D.
Paula Stephan, Ph.D.
Virginia A. Zakian, Ph.D.
Eric N. Jacobsen, Ph.D.
Steven L. McKnight, Ph.D.
Lisa Staiano-Coico, Ph.D.
Special Consultants Present:
Russ Altman, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Bioengineering
Stanford University Medical Center
Stanford, CA 94305
Franklyn Prendergast, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental
Rochester, MN 55905
Tim B. Schedl, Ph.D.
Department of Genetics
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis, MO 63110
Alasdair Steven, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Structural Biology Research
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892
Craig Townsend, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD 21218
Scott A. Waldman, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair and Director
Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Council roster (available from NIGMS).
Members of the Public Present:
Mr. Robert Berendt, Robert Berendt Associates
Dr. Perry Kirkham, Purdue University
Dr. Pat Kobor, American Psychology Association
Ms. Nancy Moy, SRI International
Ms. Angela Sharpe, Consortium of Social Science Associations
Federal Employees Present:
Dr. Steve Meachan, National Science Foundation
Dr. Lucy Robinson, National Science Foundation
Dr. Junping Wang, National Science Foundation
NIGMS employees and other NIH employees:
Please see the sign-in sheet (available from NIGMS).
I. Call to Order and Opening
Dr. Berg thanked the regular members of the Council who were
present and welcomed the new Council members: Clifford Houston,
Ph.D., associate vice president for educational outreach and the
Herman Barnett Distinguished Endowed Professor in Microbiology and
Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston; and W.
James Nelson, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences and molecular
and cellular physiology, Stanford University School of
Medicine. Then he introduced the special consultants: Russ B.
Altman, M.D., Ph.D., chair, department of bioengineering, Stanford
University School of Medicine; Tim B. Schedl, Ph.D., professor,
department of genetics, Washington University School of Medicine;
Craig Townsend, Ph.D., professor, department of chemistry, Johns
Hopkins University; and Scott A. Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., chair and
director, department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics
and medicine, Thomas Jefferson University. Franklyn Prendergast,
M.D., Ph.D., professor, department of molecular pharmacology and
experimental therapeutics, Mayo Clinic, attended via
telephone. Dr. Berg then introduced and welcomed the guests
II. Consideration of Minutes
The minutes of the January 25-26, 2007, meeting were approved as
III. Future Meeting Dates
The following dates for future Council meetings were
September 10-11, 2007
September 18-19, 2008 Thursday-Friday
IV. Report from the Director, NIGMS
Dr. Berg began by announcing the death of Dr. Stephen Straus, a
senior advisor to the NIH director and founding director of the
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Dr. Berg announced the appointments of Griffin Rodgers, M.D., as
director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and
Kidney Diseases and Barbara Alving, M.D., as director of the
National Center for Research Resources. He also announced the
appointments of Jennifer Spaeth as the new director of the NIH
Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy and Patricia Brown,
V.M.D., as the new director of the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal
He noted that the President recently nominated Tevi Troy for the
position of HHS deputy secretary and Kerry Weems for the position
of the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Dr. Berg reported on activities related to the NIGMS Strategic
Plan. He noted that input to the strategic planning process
has come from three sources: 1) scientific societies; 2) a
Web-based Request for Information; and 3) discussions at a one and
one-half day meeting on April 12-13, 2007. He noted that an
initial presentation of the strategic plan will be made at the next
Council meeting. He also gave a short slide presentation
similar to the one that he presented at the strategic planning
meeting, which provided an overview of the NIGMS budget and
Dr. Berg discussed the presentation of the President's
Fiscal Year 2008 budget to Congress. He noted that Dr. Zerhouni
presented this budget to the appropriations subcommittees in both
the House and the Senate. Dr. Berg also discussed hearings
that Senators Harkin and Specter, the chair and ranking member of
the Senate subcommittee, respectively, had been holding, which
included a series of other hearings with small groups of Institute
directors. He noted that he had participated in a hearing on
"Frontiers of Science" with Dr. Francis Collins from the National
Human Genome Research Institute, Dr. Donald Lindberg from the
National Library of Medicine, and Dr. Roderic Pettigrew from the
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
He mentioned that Dr. Zerhouni and the Institute and Center
directors recently held a retreat to plan possible scenarios for
the Fiscal Year 2009 budget.
Dr. Berg commented on some recent activities of programs
intended to increase the diversity of the biomedical
workforce. He noted that NIGMS has been working to implement
many aspects of the Council's working group report on the
MORE division programs. He stated that Dr. Clifton Poodry
helped to organize a successful workshop run by the National
Academy of Sciences on interventions intended to increase
participation of underrepresented minorities in science. Dr.
Berg also discussed his participation in the meeting of the MIT9
President's group involving the senior leadership from
Princeton, MIT, and seven other major research universities that
was focused on faculty diversity issues. He noted that he had
provided an overview of NIGMS' programs and listened to
their perspectives on the challenges of diversifying their
Finally, Dr. Berg discussed plans to evaluate the larger
programs that NIGMS initiated during the beginning of the budget
doubling. He noted that the first of these evaluations
involves the Protein Structure Initiative, whereby an external
evaluation committee has been established and will meet on
September 24, 2007.
VI. Concept Clearance: Development of High
Resolution Probes for Cellular Imaging
Recent advances obtained through X-ray crystallography and
nuclear magnetic resonance approaches have greatly increased our
knowledge of biological structures. Despite the tremendous value of
these studies, information on intracellular molecular dynamics and
transient assembly formation has been more difficult to capture. A
major barrier to obtaining real-time information on dynamic
cellular processes is the lack of sufficiently powerful molecular
probes for imaging individual molecules in living cells. Dr.
Catherine Lewis proposed to re-announce a Request for Applications
(RFA) to support targeted programs to create probes with enhanced
spectral characteristics by establishing small teams of chemists,
biologists, and spectroscopists to construct new classes of probes.
Dr. Lewis requested, and received, Council approval for soliciting
proposals for the development of high-resolution cellular imaging
Contact: Dr. Catherine Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org,
VII. Concept Clearance: Drug Docking and Screening
Computational tools to predict how drugs interact with their
targets have the potential to speed drug development, but current
methods are not reliable. A major roadblock is that not enough
experimental data are available to develop and test new tools. To
counter this problem, NIGMS plans to establish a Drug Docking and
Screening Data Resource containing high resolution structural
information about drugs bound to selected target proteins, together
with reliable affinity measurements for large groups of chemically
related molecules. Industrial and academic groups have declared
their willingness to provide existing but unpublished data to
launch this effort. The Resource will collect and curate existing
data and make it publicly available, generate new data to optimize
and complete datasets, and compare docking and screening tools. Dr.
Janna Wehrle requested, and received, Council approval to establish
the Drug Docking and Screening Data Resource using a U01
cooperative agreement mechanism.
Contact: Dr. Janna Wehrle, email@example.com,
VIII. Update: Minority Recruitment by
Institutional Research Training Grants
NIH requires evaluation by peer review panels and advisory
councils of underrepresented minority recruitment and retention
plans and efforts on competing institutional research training
grant applications. Beginning in 1988, NIGMS began a process
whereby after peer review and NAGMS Council input, the NIGMS
Committee on Minority Recruitment (CMR) examines each applicant's
plans and efforts in underrepresented minority recruitment and
retention, and recommends funding actions to the NIGMS director.
Over the past 10 years, participation of underrepresented minority
trainees on NIGMS training grants has risen from about 6 percent to
about 11 percent. However, nationally the number of
underrepresented minority students and post-docs in biomedical
research training programs remains low, and thus continued progress
is essential. Dr. Shawn Drew presented an update of
Contact: Dr. Shawn Drew, DrewL@mail.nih.gov,
IX. Workshop Report: Metagenomics and the Human
A series of workshops has recently engaged NIH participation in
a discussion for an international Human Microbiome Project (HMP).
The HMP has trans-NIH significance because it would promote better
approaches to diagnosing disease, developing new therapeutics and
therapeutic strategies, and maintaining human health. A microbiome,
consisting of the microbes resident in and on other organisms, is
an integral part of the animal and plant genetic landscape, having
been shaped by co-evolution, and having profound effects on normal
functioning. Dr. James Anderson described a set of projects that
will help launch the HMP, which will be a key component of an
international Metagenome Project.
Contacts: Dr. James Anderson, 301-594-0943; Dr. Matthew Portnoy,
X. Revisiting MORE's Post-Baccalaureate
Research Education Program
The Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)
encourages recent baccalaureate graduates from groups
underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to earn
Ph.D. degrees in these fields. After two funding cycles, the
Institute's MORE Division is proposing changes to make the
program more effective. NIGMS staff examined progress reports from
existing programs and solicited ideas and suggestions from
institutional PREP program directors. Dr. Jermelina Tupas presented
the planned PREP revisions, which will appear in a revised funding
announcement in June 2007.
Contact: Dr. Jermelina Tupas, firstname.lastname@example.org,
XI. Developments and Opportunities in the
Computational Biology of Emerging Infectious Diseases
The NIGMS-funded MIDAS (Models of Infectious Disease Agent
Study) collaborative grant program develops and applies
computational and mathematical models to study the dynamics and
control of deliberately introduced or natural infectious disease
threats. MIDAS investigators have produced a number of high-profile
studies of spread and control of pandemic influenza, which have had
a significant impact on policy and pandemic planning. MIDAS
steering committee chair Dr. Bryan Grenfell of Penn State
University summarized the current state of infectious disease
dynamics modeling and discussed the field's future
priorities. He noted the need for balancing basic research with the
growing pressure for models to provide on-demand input into policy
Contacts: Dr. Bryan Grenfell, email@example.com, 814-865-6080; Dr.
James Anderson, 301-594-0943
XII. Modeling Social Behavior in Humans and Model
Modeling is changing the face of biology, giving scientists
tools for understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of living
systems from signal transduction pathways to gene networks to cell
biology. The significant contribution that modeling has made to
rapid progress in these fields suggests modeling approaches may
advance the study of social behavior, defined as behavior between
or among individuals of the same species. Modeling approaches
provide additional tools for testing hypotheses and making
predictions, drawing on a large body of knowledge on social
organization and behavior based on observation and theory. Dr.
Irene Eckstrand reported that NIGMS staff are considering convening
an interdisciplinary working group of experts, including
sociologists, behavioral scientists, computer scientists,
mathematicians, and others, to develop a report on the feasibility,
utility, and scope of an initiative on modeling social
Contact: Dr. Irene Eckstrand, firstname.lastname@example.org,
XIII. CLOSED PORTION OF THE MEETING
XIV. Review of Applications
A summary of applications reviewed by Council is attached
The meeting adjourned at 12:30 p.m. on May 18, 2007.
I hereby certify that to my knowledge the foregoing minutes are
accurate and complete.
___________________Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D. ChairNational Advisory GeneralMedical Sciences Council
______________________Ann A. Hagan, Ph.D.Executive SecretaryNational Advisory GeneralMedical Sciences Council
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