Advisory Council Minutes, September 16, 2016

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred sixty-second meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 15, 2016.

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 2:50 p.m. on September 15, the meeting was open to the public on September 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:31 a.m.

Council Members Present

Gail E. Besner, Ph.D.
Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D.
Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D.
Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D.
Henry T. Greely, J.D.
Alan (Rick) F. Horwitz, Ph.D.
Richard Lalonde, Pharm.D.
Mark Peifer, Ph.D.
Ronald M. Przygodzki, M.D.
Janet L. Smith, Ph.D.
Willem (Wilfred) A. van der Donk, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present

David Berkowitz, Ph.D.
Willa Cather Professor
Department of Chemistry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588

Martha Bulyk, Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine
Professor of Pathology
Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02115

Enrique De La Cruz, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520

Ramanand Dixit, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, MO 63130

Elizabeth Gavis, M.D., Ph.D.
Damon B. Pfeiffer Professor in the Life Sciences
Department of Molecular Biology
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

Judith A. James, M.D., Ph.D.
Lou C. Kerr Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research
Professor, Department of Medicine
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Scott A. McLuckey, Ph.D.
John A. Leighty Distinguished Professor
Department of Chemistry
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Pedro Mendes, Ph.D.
Department of Cell Biology
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Farmington, CT 06030

Eranthie Weerapana, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

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
Julie Fabsik-Swarts, National Postdoctoral Association
Dr. Jodi Yellin, 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 19-20, 2016, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

January 26-27, 2017
May 25-26, 2017
September 14-15, 2017

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report

[PDF, 1.4MB]

NIGMS Director Dr. Jon R. Lorsch updated the Council on staff hires and departures at NIGMS and NIH, highlighting the recent retirement of Ann Dieffenbach, long-time NIGMS communications director, and the appointments of Dr. Joshua A. Gordon to lead National Institute of Mental Health, and Dr. Diana Bianchi to lead the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He pointed to upcoming NIGMS-sponsored events including the annual Stetten Lecture (October 19) and Ce?ll Day (November 3). Dr. Lorsch then discussed results of the first ESI/NI MIRA program, and described the proposed Common Fund Cryo-EM Initiative that will feature three shared, national facilities. Finally, he presented next steps for the Institute’s “Catalyzing the Modernization of Biomedical Graduate Education” effort. NIGMS aims to create a T32-based funding solicitation tailored to promote the development and iterative improvement of outstanding predoctoral training programs in fundamental biomedical research that meet the needs of a continually evolving scientific enterprise.

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

V. Report: The Allen Institute for Cell Science – A Next Step in the Post-Genomic Era

The mission of the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle, Washington, is to understand and predict cellular properties and behaviors, as well as new approaches to manipulate them. As discussed by the Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Alan Rick Horwitz, most cellular behaviors result from the organization of cellular components into discrete functional units that operate locally and transiently. He described the organization’s initial project to quantify the relative locations and dynamics of the major cellular functional units and activities as the stem cells execute characteristic activities, including passage through the cell cycle and differentiation, and in response to environmental perturbations. He noted that image data will be integrated with genomic data to model cellular organization and its transitions, with an initial goal of predicting cell state and pathology and creating a physical and functional platform, an “animated cell,” for whole-cell computational models. This visual database will also serve as an output for computational modeling. All data, models, reagents and tools generated by the Institute will be made publically available.

Contact: Dr. Alan Rick Horwitz, 206-548-7000,

VI. Report: Evidence-Based Funding: Thoughts About Extramural Research

Released late last year, the NIH Strategic Plan articulated a goal to excel as a federal agency that manages by results. In keeping with this emphasis, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Dr. Michael Lauer presented his perspectives on what types of metrics NIH and the biomedical research community should focus on when making policy decisions. These metrics include measures of funding, workforce, research impact, research efficiency and insights to be gained from research that lead to transformative discoveries. He concluded by suggesting that research grant-making should become more of an evidence-based field.

Contact: Dr. Michael Lauer, 301-496-1096,

VII. Concept Clearance: Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Phase III

The goal of the COBRE initiative is to strengthen institutional biomedical research capabilities in IDeA states through three 5-year phases of infrastructure and faculty development of thematic and multidisciplinary research centers. The COBRE phase III primarily enables transitioning research core resources developed during phases I and II into sustainable core facilities capable of supporting the conduct of high-caliber biomedical research. Dr. J. Rafael Gorospé requested, and received, Council approval to re-issue the COBRE phase III funding announcement to solicit P30 applications from current COBRE phase II awardees.

Contact: Dr. J. Rafael Gorospe, 301-435-0832,

VIII. Concept Clearance: Institutional Development Award Program Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR)

The IDeA-CTR initiative develops network infrastructure and capacity in eligible states to conduct clinical and translational research focused on health concerns that affect medically underserved populations and/or that are prevalent in IDeA states. IDeA-CTR awards support mentoring and professional development activities in clinical and translational research. Dr. J. Rafael Gorospe requested, and received, Council approval to re-issue the IDeA-CTR FOA to solicit new and continuing U54 applications from eligible institutions.

Contact: Dr. J. Rafael Gorospe, 301-435-0832,

IX. Concept Clearance: IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)

The objective of the INBRE initiative is to augment and strengthen the biomedical research capacity of an IDeA-eligible state. The INBRE program represents a collaborative effort to support research between research-intensive institutions, primarily undergraduate institutions, community colleges, and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (as appropriate). Dr. Krishan Arora requested, and received, Council approval to re-issue the INBRE funding announcement to solicit applications from current INBRE awardees.

Contact: Dr. Krishan Arora, 301-594-3900,

X. Concept Clearance: Joint DMS/NIGMS Initiative to Support Research at the Interface of the Biological and Mathematical Sciences

The Joint DMS/NIGMS Initiative to Support Research at the Interface of the Biological and Mathematical Sciences (MathBio) promotes collaboration between the life sciences and the mathematical and statistical sciences communities; brings scientists with strong quantitative skills to work on NIH-relevant research; and enriches the pool of NIGMS applications with projects that have strong quantitative components. Dr. Paul Brazhnik requested, and received, Council approval to continue this program. The updated MathBio program will support R01 research projects in which mathematics and statistics play essential roles for advancement in the biological and biomedical sciences.

Contact: Dr. Paul Brazhnik, 301-451-6446,

XI. Concept Clearance: Planning Grants for Clinical Trials of High Relevance to the NIGMS Mission

NIGMS supports a limited number of clinical trials in areas of high significance to its mission (trauma and burn, peri-operative injury, sepsis, wound healing, anesthesiology, and peri-operative pain). Prior to submitting a clinical trial application, many activities such as establishing collaborative relationships with participating sites, preparing regulatory approvals, and developing plans for data analysis/trial oversight must be completed. Dr. Sarah Dunsmore requested, and received, Council approval to solicit planning grant (R34) applications from investigators interested in clinical trials relevant to the NIGMS mission.

Contact: Dr. Sarah Dunsmore, 301-594-3827,

XII. Concept Clearance: Biomedical Technology Research Resources

[PDF, 253KB]

The Biomedical Technology Research Resources (BTRR) program has a mission to provide investigators with the necessary cutting-edge tools and environments to advance biomedical research, with the ultimate goal of improving human disease detection, prevention and treatment. The updated program aims to support BTRR Centers with three primary components: Technology Research and Development, Driving Biomedical Projects and Community Engagement. The centers will have a dual mission to provide a platform that will develop high-impact technologies that enable biomedical research and to move those technologies into wide use within the research community. Dr. Susan Gregurick requested, and received, Council approval to continue this program.

Contact: Dr. Susan Gregurick, 301-451-6446,

XII. Public Comment Period

Dr. Yvette Seger, director of science policy at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), noted the organization’s continued interest and involvement in efforts related to NIH’s Rigor and Reproducibility initiative. She also mentioned FASEB’s efforts to increase awareness, usage and acknowledgement of shared research resources.

André Porter, policy analyst at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), commented on the group’s sustained support of NIGMS’ mission and programs. ASBMB continues its focus on supporting the biomedical research workforce and maintaining consistent research funding.

Julie Fabsik-Swarts, new executive director of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), introduced herself and said she looks forward to working with NIGMS. She also noted NPA’s Annual Meeting will take place in San Francisco, California, on March 17-19, 2017, and that National Postdoc Appreciation Week ​is September 19-23, 2016.


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:31 a.m. on September 16, 2016.


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