Advisory Council Minutes, May 24-25, 2012

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred forty-ninth meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 24, 2012.

Dr. Judith H. Greenberg, acting 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 3:02 p.m. on May 24, the meeting was open to the public on May 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Council Members Present:

David A. Agard, Ph.D.
Michael D. Caldwell, M.D., Ph.D.
Mary (Molly) L. Carnes, M.D.
Karolin Luger, Ph.D.
David O. Meltzer, M.D., Ph.D.
Scott J. Miller, Ph.D.
Denise J. Montell, Ph.D.
Robert F. Murphy, Ph.D.
Marc A. Nivet, Ed.D.
Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D.
Margaret C. Werner-Washburne, Ph.D.
Holly A. Wichman, Ph.D.

Members Absent:

Luisa DiPietro, D.D.S., Ph.D.
John E. Johnson, Ph.D.
James L. Stevens, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present:

Trisha N. Davis, Ph.D.
Professor and Acting Chair
Department of Biochemistry
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Ann Hochschild, Ph.D.
Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology
Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02115

Richard Lalonde, Pharm.D.
Vice President and
Global Head of Clinical Pharmacology
Head of Clinical Pharmacology for Primary Care
Pfizer, Inc.
Groton, CT 06340

Debra A. Schwinn, M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Allan J. Treuer Endowed Professor
Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Genome Sciences
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-6540

Janet L. Smith, Ph.D.
Martha L. Ludwig Professor of Protein Structure and Function
Department of Biological Chemistry
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2216

Volker M. Vogt, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Council roster (available from NIGMS).

Members of the Public Present:

Dr. Lisa Kirkham, Purdue University
Dr. Perry Kirkham, Purdue University
Dr. Molly Maguire, Lewis-Burke Associates
Dr. Brittany Westlake, American Chemical Society

Federal Employees Present:

Dr. Roland F. Hirsch, Department of Energy
Dr. Mary Ann Horn, National Science Foundation
Dr. Anne Maglia, National Science Foundation
Dr. Elsa Schaefer, National Science Foundation
Dr. Marcelo Vinces, 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. Greenberg thanked the regular members of the Council who were present and then introduced the special consultants: Trisha N. Davis, Ph.D., professor and acting chair, Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington; Ann Hochschild, Ph.D., Maude and Lillian Presley professor of microbiology and immunobiology, Harvard Medical School; Richard Lalonde, Pharm.D., vice president and global head of clinical pharmacology, Pfizer Inc.; Debra A. Schwinn, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, University of Washington; Janet L. Smith, Ph.D., Martha L. Ludwig professor of protein structure and function, Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan; and Volker M. Vogt, Ph.D., professor, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University.

Dr. Greenberg then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the January 19-20, 2012, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

September 6-7, 2012
January 24-25, 2013
May 16-17, 2013

IV. NIGMS Acting Director's Report

Dr. Greenberg updated the Council on new NIH appointments, and she noted the retirement of several long-time NIGMS staff members.

She described several activities planned to mark the Institute's 50th anniversary this year, notably the October 17, 2012, Stetten Symposium and the November 2, 2012, Cell Day interactive Web chat room for teachers and students. Dr. Greenberg provided an overview of the FY 2012 and FY 2013 budget scenarios. She also discussed the NIH Common Fund, noting that several of the earliest funded projects will soon be ending, freeing up funds for new initiatives. Finally, Dr. Greenberg pointed to the new publication, Leadership in Decline [PDF 1.8MB], which compares the U.S. biomedical research investment with that of other nations.

Contact: Dr. Judith H. Greenberg,, 301-594-2172

V. Council Operating Procedures

Each year, the NIGMS Council must approve its operating procedures. Changes to these procedures this year were minimal. They included additional explanation of two Council motions for high or low program priority as well as explicit mention that scientific review officers' comments are part of the appeal materials. Associate Director for Extramural Activities, Dr. Ann Hagan, requested and received Council approval of the 2012 NAGMS Council Operating Procedures.

Contact: Dr. Ann Hagan,, 301-594-4499

VI. Evolution and Medicine NIH Curriculum Supplement for High School

In 2009, NIGMS celebrated Charles Darwin's 100th anniversary by bringing to life the importance of evolution to medical research and practice. One result was a coalition of 11 NIH institutes, led by NIH's Office of Science Education, that contributed funds to develop "Evolution and Medicine," a high school curriculum supplement released in May 2012. Dr. Bruce Fuchs, director of the NIH Office of Science Education, explained that it joins a series of curriculum supplements for a variety of age groups that have been produced by the NIH over the years. Dr. Irene Eckstrand, who represented NIGMS in the development of the new evolution supplement, noted that it gives students an opportunity to apply evolutionary concepts to real-world questions, such as why organisms are vulnerable to disease, how drug-resistant microbes evolve and why medical scientists use model organisms to study human biology. Teachers from 50 states have requested nearly 9,000 copies of this free teaching resource.

Contacts: Dr. Irene Eckstrand,, 301-594-0943; Dr. Bruce Fuchs,, 301-402-5225

VII. Biomedical Technology Program

Approximately two-thirds of the biomedical technology research and development programs housed in the former National Center for Research Resources now reside within the NIGMS Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology. As described by Dr. Amy L. Swain, acting director of the Biomedical Technology Branch, these programs develop cutting-edge technologies that enhance and enable research in every area of biomedical science and make the resources available to the biomedical community.

Contact: Dr. Amy L. Swain,, 301-451-6446

VIII. Concept Clearance: Development of Glycan Libraries Using the SBIR Contract Mechanism

Glycans play many important roles in cell growth and movement, as well as in immune function and a variety of other physiological processes. Carbohydrate-based, high-throughput assays using tools called glycan arrays hold great promise for answering basic biological questions as well as for the development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. Program Director Dr. Pamela Marino described a partnership with the National Cancer Institute to fund the development of glycan libraries for screening purposes. The awards will be made using Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts. Dr. Marino requested, and received, Council approval to solicit SBIR contracts for this purpose.

Contact: Dr. Pamela Marino,, 301-594-3827

IX. Value of Information Analysis to Inform Priorities for Health Research

Value of information (VOI) analysis estimates the expected improvements in population health from research. Dr. David Meltzer of the University of Chicago stated that VOI analysis has substantial informational requirements that generally preclude its use for prioritizing basic science research, but noted that VOI approaches may often be of use in the design and prioritization of clinical research studies. He described new methods to perform VOI with less stringent information requirements that may broaden its use to inform research prioritization both in the United States and internationally.

Contact: Dr. David Meltzer,, 773-702-0836


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m. on May 25, 2012.


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