Advisory Council Minutes, September 14-15, 2017

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred sixty-fifth meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 14, 2017.

Dr. Jon R. Lorsch, 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 4:05 p.m. on September 14, the meeting was open to the public on September 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:06 p.m.

Council Members Present

Goldie Byrd, Ph.D.
Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D.
Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D.
Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D.
William Gern, Ph.D.
Kaye Husbands Fealing, Ph.D.
Larry Overman, Ph.D.
Mark Peifer, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, Ph.D.
Sean B. Seymore, Ph.D., J.D.
Janet L. Smith, Ph.D.
Willem (Wilfred) A. van der Donk, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present

Francisco Barrera, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Knoxville, TN 37996-4544

Abigail G. Doyle, Ph.D.
A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

Tarun Kapoor, Ph.D.
Pels Family Professor
Selma and Lawrence Ruben Laboratory of Chemistry and Cell Biology
The Rockefeller University
New York, NY 10065

Oleh Khalimonchuk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry/Redox Biology Center
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0664

Sabeeha Merchant, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Director, Institute of Genomics and Proteomics
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569

Guy Padbury, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President
Preclinical Development
Merck Research Laboratories
West Point, PA 19486-0004

Michael Summers, Ph.D.
Distinguished University Professor
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Robert E. Meyerhoff Chair for Excellence in Research and Mentoring
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD 21250

Cathy Wu, Ph.D.
Edward G. Jefferson Chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Departments of Computer and Information Sciences and Biological Sciences
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19711-5449

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Thomas Baldwin, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Todd Bentsen, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Sally Bond, Purdue University
Dr. Adam Fagen
Dr. Barbara Golden, Purdue University
Dr. Andrea Kasinski, Purdue University
Dr. Perry Kirkham, Purdue University
Rachel Levinson, Arizona State University
Dr. Stephen Lindemann, Purdue University
André Porter, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr. Yvette Seger, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Erika Shugart, American Society for Cell Biology
Dr. Kevin Solomon, Purdue University
Kevin Wilson, American Society for Cell Biology
Dr. Jodi Yellen, Association of American Medical Colleges

NIGMS and Other NIH Employees

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

Other Federal Employees Present



I. Call to Order and Opening Remarks

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

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the May 25-26, 2017, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

January 18-19, 2018
May 24-25, 2018
September 13-14, 2018

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report

NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch updated the Council on staff departures at NIGMS, noting the recent passing of former NIGMS employee Dr. Catherine D. Lewis, who made many contributions to the Institute and scientific community throughout her 30-year tenure at NIH. He highlighted the appointment of Dr. Alfred Johnson as deputy director for management, NIH, and informed the Council of the recent nominations of Dr. Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless for the position of director, National Cancer Institute, and John J. Bartrum for the position of assistant secretary for financial resources, Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Lorsch then provided updates of recent NIGMS activities, including the June 22, 2017, “Workshop on Responsible Communication of Basic Biomedical Research: Enhancing Awareness and Avoiding Hype,” ​co-organized by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), and selected congressional interactions. He invited Council members to attend and promote the annual Stetten Lecture (featuring Dr. Rommie E. Amaro of the University of California, San Diego) and to provide input on NIGMS undergraduate and predoctoral diversity programs. Finally, Dr. Lorsch presented an update of the recently announced Next Generation Researchers Initiative and invited Council discussion on the policy.

Contact: Dr. Jon R. Lorsch, 301-594-2172,

V. Early-Stage Investigator (ESI) Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) Analysis

The review process for the second round of ESI MIRA has been completed, and NIGMS is finishing the process of granting awards. Dr. Jacob Basson presented data detailing investigator demographics in the review process with an emphasis on whether and how well applications were scored as a function of gender and race/ethnicity. He also discussed how submitted applications reach review and presented updated procedures for making that determination.

Contact: Dr. Jacob Basson, 301-443-8844

VI. Presentation: Translating Basic Research: Aging Better and a Future Without Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias continue to pose tremendous challenges for understanding underlying disease pathology; however, advances in basic science are revealing new insights into relevant pathways. The relatively new discipline of geroscience explores aging as a risk factor for multiple age-related conditions (such as Alzheimer’s) to complement a more traditional disease-focused approach to basic and translational research. National Institute on Aging (NIA) Director Dr. Richard Hodes reviewed the status of these approaches, including scientific successes as well as areas of focus for future study. He also discussed opportunities for trans-NIH collaborations that may help facilitate the translation of basic science findings, including but not limited to the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, and NIA supplements for Alzheimer’s research additions to non-Alzheimer’s-related projects supported by other NIH Institutes and Centers.

Contact: Dr. Richard Hodes, 301-496-9265,

VII. Workshop Summary: Responsible Communication of Basic Biomedical Research

From grant applications and journal articles to press releases and news stories, reports of scientific advances can oversell or misrepresent findings. A June workshop ​explored the effects of this hype on the scientific enterprise and public trust. Dr. Thomas O. Baldwin, FASEB president and one of the workshop moderators, presented a brief overview of the discussion and highlighted key actions that different stakeholders can take to effectively communicate the intent and outcomes of basic biomedical research.

Contact: Dr. Thomas O. Baldwin, 301-634-7124,

VIII. Concept Clearances

  • Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) Coordination Center
  • The long-standing MIDAS program is a collaborative network of research and informatics groups that focus on developing computational models of interactions between infectious agents and their hosts, disease spread, prediction systems, and response strategies. Dr. Susan Gregurick requested, and received, Council approval to solicit applications for a MIDAS coordination center (U24) to act as a focal point for collaboration and training as well as for testing and dissemination of MIDAS research products. This coordination center will also act as a point of contact between MIDAS researchers and public health organizations.

    Contact: Dr. Susan K. Gregurick, 301-594-5135,

  • NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) (R25)
  • The NIH R25 mechanism supports research-education activities in NIH mission areas. SEPA supports the scientific workforce by providing opportunities for students from underserved communities to consider careers in basic or clinical research, provides teachers with professional development in science content and teaching skills, and improves community health literacy through its science centers and museum exhibits. Dr. Tony Beck requested, and received, Council approval for a SEPA funding opportunity announcement to invest in such educational activities.

    Contact: Dr. Tony Beck, 301-480-4623,

  • Interactive Digital Media Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Resources for Precollege and Informal Science Education Audiences (SBIR) (R43/R44), STTR (R41/R42)
  • Interactive digital media resources function as a bridge technology to convert interactive digital media from a social pastime into a powerful educational tool for challenging students with problem solving, conceptual reasoning, and goal-oriented decisions. Dr. Tony Beck requested, and received, Council approval to solicit applications from eligible small business concerns to submit SBIR or STTR grant applications to develop STEM-related interactive digital media resources with a focus on biology and health for prekindergarten to grade 12 students, pre- and in-service teachers, and informal science education audiences.

    Contact: Dr. Tony Beck, 301-480-4623,

  • Regional Tech Transfer Accelerator Hubs for Institutional Development Award (IDeA) States (UT2)
  • The IDeA program broadens the geographical distribution of biomedical research funding and often serves rural and medically underserved populations. Historically, the 23 IDeA states and Puerto Rico have received disproportionately few SBIR/STTR grants. One strategy to address this gap is to create a shared STTR regional tech-transfer accelerator hub in each of the four IDeA U.S. regions (central, northeastern, southeastern, and western). Such regional accelerator hubs would act as consortia to provide infrastructure and build an entrepreneurial culture at IDeA institutions. Dr. Krishan Arora requested, and received, Council approval to solicit applications from U.S. small business concerns to partner with academic institutions to develop, implement, and test a comprehensive program for promoting entrepreneurship, technology transfer, management, small-business finance, and other skills needed to translate discoveries and technologies and improve human health.

    Contacts: Dr. Krishan Arora, 301-594-3900,; Dr. Joseph Gindhart, 301-594-0828,

IX. Public Comment Period

Dr. Erika Shugart, executive director of the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB), provided updates on recent society activities, including coordinating resource sharing for scientists affected by Hurricane Harvey, policy work surrounding the work of embryonic stem cells in research, and the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). The DORA effort, initiated by ASCB and including a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals, recognizes the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of scientific research are evaluated.

André Porter, policy analyst at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, affirmed the society’s commitment to sustainability of the research enterprise in synchrony with NIGMS efforts in this arena. He expressed issues and concerns about the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, namely the potential vulnerability of investigators just beyond eligibility for early-established investigator status.

Dr. Yvette Seger, director of science policy at FASEB, updated the Council on society-related projects and issues. She noted that FASEB recently conducted a stakeholder survey on shared research resources and plans to issue recommendations and an extensive data set soon. Dr. Seger also discussed briefly ongoing work of the FASEB subcommittee on the use of animals in research and education​.


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


The meeting adjourned at 12:06 p.m. on September 15, 2017.


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