Advisory Council Minutes – September 17, 2020

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in open session for its one hundred and seventy-fourth meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 17, 2020.

Dr. Jon R. Lorsch, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), presided as chair of the meeting. After an open session from 9:30 a.m. to 11:42 a.m., the closed session was held from 1 p.m. to 4:11 p.m.

Council Members Attending Remotely

Darrin Akins, Ph.D.
Celeste Berg, Ph.D.
Squire J. Booker, Ph.D.
Enrique M. De La Cruz, Ph.D.
Peter J. Espenshade, Ph.D.
Laura F. Gibson, Ph.D.
Danielle Li, Ph.D.
Guy Padbury, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Amy Rosenzweig, Ph.D.
Melanie Sanford, Ph.D.
Pamela Stacks, Ph.D.
Michael Summers, Ph.D.
Cathy Wu, Ph.D.
John Younger, M.D.

Special Consultants Attending Remotely

David Koes, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Computational & Systems Biology
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3202

Rachel Patton McCord, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-1939

Jeffrey Sun, J.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Associate Dean for Innovation & Strategic Partnerships
Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Hector Wong, M.D.
Professor and Interim Chair of Pediatrics
Interim Director, Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation
Interim Chief Medical Officer, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Cincinnati, OH 45229

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Attending Remotely

Not tracked because this was a virtual conference.

Other Federal Employees Present



I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

Dr. Lorsch thanked the regular members of the Council who were attending remotely and introduced the special consultants. He then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the May 21, 2020, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

January 21, 2021
May 20, 2021
September 9, 2021

IV. NIGMS Director's Report

NIGMS Director’s Report Slides [PDF 6.1MB]

NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch thanked the NAGMS Council and NIGMS staff for their continued service and welcomed new Council members. He acknowledged recent NIGMS staff departures and hires, and offered remembrances of two long-time NIGMS leaders who recently passed away: former NIGMS Director Dr. Marvin Cassman and Dr. Ward Smith, chief of the Biomedical Technology Branch in the Institute’s Division of Biophysics, Biomedical Technology, and Computational Biosciences. Dr. Lorsch then announced NIH leadership changes, including the retirement of NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Dr. Hannah Valantine and the hiring of several new NIH institute and center (IC) directors: Dr. Richard (Rick) P. Woychik, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Dr. Shannon N. Zenk, National Institute of Nursing Research; Dr. Michael F. Chiang, National Eye Institute; Dr. Rena N. D’Souza, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; and Dr. Lindsey A. Criswell, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Dr. Lorsch notified the Council of upcoming events, including the NIGMS Director’s Early Career Investigator Lecture on October 14 and the NIGMS Stetten Lecture on November 18. He also announced the availability of several NIGMS educational offerings including webinars for the training community, a new issue of Scholastic’s Pathways magazine, and science-related screen backgrounds for use in virtual meetings.

Dr. Lorsch described supplements that were given to NIGMS-supported research projects related to modeling the spread of SARS-CoV-2, as well as repurposing of diagnostics or therapeutics under development by small businesses for use against SARS-CoV-2. In addition, together with the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIGMS recently funded the IDeA-CTR Patient Data Registry for COVID-19 to collect patient data from rural and vulnerable/medically underserved populations. To help support the early career workforce, NIGMS 1) allowed participants in its individual fellowship and early career award programs (F and K awards) to request an extension of support with justification; 2) awarded supplements in a broad range of training programs; and 3) provided summer undergraduate research supplements. Dr. Lorsch updated the Council on several programmatic topics including the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) and the RADx-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) programs. He closed his remarks by recognizing the pressing need to change the culture of the biomedical research enterprise to make it more inclusive, safe, and equitable.

Contact: Dr. Jon Lorsch,

V. Supporting Women’s Health Research in IDeA States: A Collaboration with NIH OD and Other Institutes

NIGMS and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) issued a notice of special interest to expand research and research capacity in Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states to address important issues related to women’s health. Twelve other ICs participated in this initiative aimed to supplement existing IDeA-Clinical and Translational Research, Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, and IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence awards. In addition, NIGMS participated in a notice of special interest issued by the NIH Office of the Director (OD) to expand research on pregnancy-related or pregnancy-associated maternal morbidity or mortality. Collectively, in FY 2020, IDeA states received $5 million through 20 awards from ORWH, NIGMS, OD, and 7 other ICs.

Contact: Dr. Zuzana Justinova,

VI. Concept Clearance (Reissue): Medical Scientist Training Program

NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to developing the next generation of biomedical scientists through a variety of programs, including the M.D.-Ph.D. dual-degree Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). This program provides Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants (T32) to medical institutions that are responsible for training physician-scientists. In FY 2019, NIGMS supported 1,052 MSTP trainees on 50 T32 grants. Dr. Lorsch requested and received NAGMS Council approval to reissue a funding announcement for this program, which will continue to address the unique aspects and challenges of MSTP training. It will also emphasize overall principles for graduate education included in NIGMS’ NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants Program description and guidelines.

Contacts: Dr. Stefan Maas,, and Dr. Joe Gindhart,

VII. Concept Clearance (Reissue): Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training

The Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) program was developed in part to replace the previous NIGMS Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Ancillary Training Grant (T36) and as an alternative to the NIH R13 Conference Grant. The IPERT (R25) funds training and career development activities not supported by other institutional training and research education grants. Through IPERT, NIGMS supports creative educational activities designed to equip a diverse cohort of participants with the technical, operational, and professional skills required for careers in the biomedical research workforce. Funded programs are expected to have robust evaluation, outreach, dissemination, and sustainability plans, as well as effective integration of courses for skills development and mentoring activities. Dr. Lorsch requested and received NAGMS Council approval to reissue a funding announcement for this program.

Contacts: Dr. Edgardo Falcón-Morales,, and Dr. Desirée Salazar,

VIII. Concept Clearance (Reissue): Bridges to the Doctorate Research Training Program

The NIGMS Bridges to the Doctorate program’s longstanding goal is to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The program promotes partnerships between master’s degree-granting institutions and Ph.D. degree-granting universities that offer biomedically relevant degree programs. The strategy is to support comprehensive research training, skills building, and career development programs that help master’s trainees from diverse backgrounds (including those from underrepresented groups) transition to Ph.D. programs at research-intensive partner institutions and to earn Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Dr. Lorsch requested and received NAGMS Council approval to reissue a funding announcement for the Bridges to the Doctorate (T32) program.

Contact: Dr. Sydella Blatch,

IX. Concept Clearances (New): Support for Research Excellence Program Components

Support for Research Excellence (SuRE) is a capacity-building program that replaces the NIGMS Support of Competitive Research program. Its overall goals are to 1) develop and sustain research excellence in U.S. higher education institutions with strong records of serving students from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research and 2) award baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees in science at institutions that receive limited research grant support from NIH. SuRE has three components:

SuRE Award

The SuRE award will support investigator-initiated research at eligible institutions. It will emphasize the development of investigators, opportunities for student research, and the growth of grantee institutions’ research capacity.

SuRE First Award

NIGMS conceived the SuRE First Award for beginning investigators with no prior externally funded research grants and who are interested in testing an idea, gathering preliminary data, establishing their laboratories and research programs, and strengthening their ability to secure other research support. Metrics to evaluate SuRE First funding include total institutional research support as well as the number of 1) publications, 2) principal investigators (PIs) who transition from SuRE First to SuRE awards, 3) PIs who secure non-SuRE research support, and 4) students supported by SuRE First Awards.

SuRE Resource Center

The SuRE Resource Center award is designed to ensure that SuRE-funded institutions develop the knowledge and infrastructure needed to support their faculty’s research endeavors and encourage broader participation in the SuRE program. The SuRE-Resource Center will develop and/or strengthen offices of sponsored programs at SuRE-eligible institutions to enhance their success in applying for SuRE grants.

Dr. Ming Lei requested and received NAGM​S Council approval to issue three funding announcements for the SuRE program.

Contact: Dr. Ming Lei,

X. Concept Clearance (Reissue): IDeA Regional Technology Transfer Accelerator Hubs

The NIGMS-funded IDeA Regional Technology Transfer Accelerator Hubs foster biomedical entrepreneurship in IDeA states to promote technology transfer, small business finance and management, and other business skills needed to bring scientific results from academic institutions into the market that improve patient care and enhance human health. Dr. Krishan Arora requested and received NAGMS Council approval to reissue a funding announcement to continue the program. Newly awarded hubs will provide access to expertise and resources in areas required for early-stage technology development; provide skills development and hands-on experience in entrepreneurship; and promote a sustainable, diverse, and inclusive culture of biomedical entrepreneurship within IDeA states.

Contact: Dr. Krishan Arora,

XI. Concept Clearance (New): Exploring the Scientific Value of Existing or New Human Sepsis Biospecimen Collections

The Sepsis Working Group of the NAGMS Council identified opportunities to use discovery approaches to characterize sepsis and recommended emphasizing the importance of human biospecimens for research. Dr. Rochelle Long described a new initiative to determine the scientific value of existing or newly collected sepsis human biospecimen sets as testbeds for studies, and to provide guidance on best practices for assembling and disseminating human biospecimen collections associated with patient data. The new initiative is consistent with NIGMS’ goal of rebalancing the sepsis portfolio toward patient-oriented research. Dr. Long requested and received NAGMS Council approval to issue a funding announcement for this sepsis-related initiative.

Contact: Dr. Rochelle Long,


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


The meeting adjourned at 4:11 p.m. on September 17​, 2020.


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


Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D.
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council


Erica Brown, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary
National Advisory General
Medical Sciences Council