Advisory Council Minutes, September 17-18, 2015

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred fifty-ninth meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

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 4:31 p.m. on September 17, the meeting was open to the public on September 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:36 a.m.

Council Members Present

Gail E. Besner, M.D.
Henry T. Greely, J.D.
Alan (Rick) F. Horwitz, Ph.D.
Richard L. Lalonde, Pharm.D.
Scott J. Miller, Ph.D.
Margaret C. Werner-Washburne, Ph.D.

Council Members Absent

Marc A. Nivet, Ed.D.
Holly A. Wichman, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present

Bonnie Berger, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139

Amy Hitchcock Camp, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, MA 01075

Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D.
Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity and Inclusion
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912

Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D.
Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Houston, TX 77030

Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D.
Ralph F. Hirschmann Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706-1396

Arne Gennerich, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology
Gruss-Lipper Biophotonics Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, NY 10461

Mark Peifer, Ph.D.
Hooker Distinguished Professor
Department of Biology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Thomas J. Silhavy, Ph.D.
Warner-Lambert Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology
Department of Molecular Biology
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

Janet L. Smith, Ph.D.
Margaret J. Hunter Collegiate Professor of Life Sciences
Professor of Biological Chemistry
Life Sciences Institute
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2216

Wilfred A. van der Donk, Ph.D.
Richard E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801

Council roster (available from NIGMS)

Members of the Public Present

Dr. Jay Dunlap, Dartmouth College
Dr. Adam Fagen, Genetics Society of America
Dr. Sarah Martin, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr. Chloe Poston, Genetics Society of America
Dr. Desirée Salazar, American Society for Cell Biology
Dr. Monika Schneider, American Association of Immunologists
Dr. Yvette Seger, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Kevin Wilson, American Society for Cell Biology

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 then introduced the special consultants: Bonnie Berger, Ph.D., professor of mathematics, and electrical engineering and computer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Amy Hitchcock Camp, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, Mount Holyoke College; Liza D. Cariaga-Lo, Ed.D., vice president for Academic Development, Diversity, and Inclusion, Brown University; Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph.D., professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Samuel H. Gellman, Ph.D., Ralph F. Hirschmann Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Arne Gennerich, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Gruss-Lipper Biophotonics Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Mark Peifer, Ph.D., Hooker Distinguished Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Thomas J. Silhavy, Ph.D., Warner-Lambert Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University; Janet L. Smith, Ph.D., Margaret J. Hunter Collegiate Professor of Life Sciences and professor of biological chemistry, Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan; and Wilfred A. van der Donk, Ph.D., Richard E. Heckert Endowed Chair in Chemistry, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Lorsch then introduced and welcomed the guests in attendance.

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the May 21-22, 2015, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

January 28-29, 2016             Thursday-Friday
May 19-20, 2016                     Thursday-Friday
September 15-16, 2016         Thursday-Friday

IV. NIGMS Director’s Report

Dr. Lorsch thanked the Council members for their continued service, and he acknowledged the hard work of NIGMS staff that goes into planning and executing every Council meeting. He updated the group on staff hires and departures at NIGMS and NIH, noting that the Institute has an ongoing open search for the director of the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry (no longer available). Dr. Lorsch recognized long-time NIGMS grantee Dr. Stephen Elledge of Brigham and Women’s Hospital for winning this year’s Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. He then updated the Council on several upcoming events:

Dr. Lorsch noted that NIH is developing a 5-Year Strategic Plan and invited Council members to keep up-to-date with the process and to provide comment. Finally, Dr. Lorsch presented an in-depth analysis by the NIGMS Office of Program Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation on the relationship between research funding level and scientific productivity.

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

V. Report: Training, Workforce Development and Diversity Stakeholders’ Meeting

In February 2015, NIGMS issued a Request for Information to obtain feedback, comments and innovative ideas related to undergraduate student development and diversifying the biomedical science workforce. This feedback was shared and discussed at a May 2015 NIGMS-sponsored meeting aiming to 1) identify workable approaches to increase diversity among those earning a biomedical science Ph.D.; 2) consider effective undergraduate approaches for enhancing training and student development programs; and 3) discuss effective practices across different institution types that increase numbers of undergraduate students from underrepresented groups going on to careers in biomedical research. Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo of Brown University shared a summary of the meeting, including suggested strategies that might significantly increase the number of underrepresented students obtaining Ph.D.s.

Contact: Dr. Liza Coriaga-Lo,, 401-863-2617

VI. Presentation: Beans, Brains and Baseball Teams: How Making a Bigger “Us” is Key to Diversity and Inclusion

If diversity has the potential to lead to greater innovation and, thus, economic growth, the United States is faced with huge opportunity as minority populations increase to 50 percent by 2050 (and 50 percent of people under 19 by 2021). This demographic change also presents a massive challenge because, despite well-intentioned efforts, disparities in wealth and other key measures, including attainment of jobs requiring a higher education, have been unchanged or have actually increased for many years. Dr. Maggie Werner-Washburne, of the University of New Mexico, described her own successful efforts engaging students from underrepresented groups at her home institution, but she questioned the reality of larger-scale change. She posited the influence of major, positive forces affecting diversity at every level. Researchers analyzing this issue from different disciplines have reached similar conclusions: that in-group favoritism or positive bias is a highly significant force maintaining disparities.

Contact: Dr. Maggie Werner-Washburne,, 505-277-9338

VII. Concept Clearance: Mature Synchrotron Resources

NIGMS supports eight synchrotron-based resources, some of which feature X-ray beamline technologies that have been developed to a point of maturity and are heavily used by the research community. To ensure that NIH-supported investigators continue to have reliable access to these established and valuable resources, NIGMS aims to issue a funding announcement to support mature synchrotron resources that will focus on user access, training and outreach, and some technology development to maintain the resources at state-of-the-art levels. Dr. Susan Gregurick requested, and received, Council approval to issue a new program announcement in this area using the P30 activity code.

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

VIII. Concept Clearance: New Technologies for Glycoscience

Launched in FY 2015, and co-led by NIGMS and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the NIH Common Fund (CF)-supported program “Accelerating Translation of Glycoscience: Integration and Accessibility,” is directed at development of accessible and affordable new tools and technologies that will enable non-specialists to conduct carbohydrate research. NIGMS aims to stimulate small-business interest in efforts that complement the CF glycoscience program, to increase the number of commercialized technologies. Because the CF does not utilize the SBIR/STTR mechanisms, Dr. Susan Gregurick requested, and received, Council approval to issue a new program announcement for SBIR and STTR applications in technology areas supported by the CF glycoscience program.

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

IX. Reissued Concept Clearances

Dr. Lorsch invited the Council to vote en bloc on the following (re-issued) concept clearances. All were approved.

  • NIGMS Centers for HIV/AIDS-Related Structural Biology (P50)
  • Limited Pilot for NIGMS Legacy Community-Wide Scientific Resources
  • Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) Program
  • Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) (R25)
  • Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) (K12)
  • Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) (R25)
  • Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program (R25)
  • Bridges to the Doctorate Program (R25)
  • Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program (R25)
  • Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U-STAR) Awards (T34)
  • Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program (R25)
  • Training Modules to Enhance Data Reproducibility
  • Renewal of Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE)
  • Support of Competitive Research Advancement Award (SC1), Pilot Project Award (SC2), Research Continuance Award (SC3)
  • Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH)

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

X. Public Comment Period

Dr. Yvette Seger, director of science policy at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), thanked NIGMS for its persistence and creativity in sustaining basic biomedical research. She noted FASEB’s interest and involvement in efforts related to NIH’s Rigor and Reproducibility initiative, informing the Council of two focus areas: mouse models in research and research antibodies. She reported that FASEB aims to issue a report on the topic in January 2016.

Dr. Adam Fagen, executive director of the Genetics Society of America (GSA), reported an increase in the relative number of trainees in its membership. He stated that GSA views on “spreading the wealth” of research funding coincide with those of NIGMS. Dr. Fagen affirmed the continued need for sustained and reliable support of research resources, and updated the Council on an upcoming meeting: The Allied Genetics Conference, to be held July 13-17, 2016, in Orlando, Florida.


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:36 a.m. on September 18, 2015.


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