Advisory Council Minutes, September 6-7, 2012

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council was convened in closed session for its one hundred fiftieth meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 6, 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 4:35 p.m. on September 6, the meeting was open to the public on September 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:53 a.m.

Council Members Present:

David A. Agard, Ph.D.
Michael D. Caldwell, M.D., Ph.D.
Mary (Molly) L. Carnes, M.D.
Luisa DiPietro, D.D.S., Ph.D.
John E. Johnson, Ph.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.
James L. Stevens, Ph.D.
Margaret C. Werner-Washburne, Ph.D.
Holly A. Wichman, Ph.D.

Special Consultants Present:

Douglas L. Black, Ph.D.
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1662

Gerald W. Hart, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Department of Biological Chemistry
Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21205-2185

George A. Kaplan, Ph.D.
Thomas Francis Collegiate Emeritus Professor of Public Health
Emeritus Professor
Department of Epidemiology
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2548

Ron Kikinis, M.D
Robert Greenes Distinguished Director of Biomedical Informatics
Professor of Radiology
Harvard Medical School
Director, Surgical Planning Laboratory
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, MA 021150

Jodi Nunnari, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616

Council roster (available from NIGMS).

Members of the Public Present:

Dr. Doug Friedman, National Academy of Sciences
Dr. Karen Mowrer, Association of Independent Research Institutes
Dr. Judith Mun, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
Ms. Michelle Rodrigues, SRI International
Dr. Caroline Trupp Gil, American Chemical Society
Dr. Katherine Weber, American Chemical Society

Federal Employees Present:


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: Douglas L. Black, Ph.D., professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, and investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Gerald W. Hart, Ph.D., professor and director, Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University; George A. Kaplan, Ph.D., emeritus professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health; Ron Kikinis, M.D., professor of radiology, Harvard Medical School, and director, surgical planning laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital; and Jodi Nunnari, Ph.D., professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Davis.

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

II. Consideration of Minutes

The minutes of the May 24-25, 2012, meeting were approved as submitted.

III. Future Meeting Dates

The following dates for future Council meetings were confirmed:

January 24-25, 2013
September 19-20, 2013

IV. NIGMS Acting Director's Report

Dr. Judith H. Greenberg updated the Council on new NIGMS personnel matters, including the recently re-launched NIGMS director search, and she noted that this Council meeting is the 150th for the Institute. Dr. Greenberg reminded the Council about two upcoming events commemorating NIGMS' 50th anniversary: the DeWitt Stetten, Jr., 50th Anniversary Symposium (October 17) and Cell Day, an interactive Web chatroom about the cell for middle and high school students (November 2). Dr. Greenberg briefly described the newly established Office of Emergency Care Research, a trans-NIH coordinating group that is housed within NIGMS. She pointed to the recent (June 2012) release of three reports from the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director, each of which has topical relevance to the NIGMS mission. Dr. Greenberg concluded by summarizing FY 2012 budget activities.

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

V. Presentation: NIGMS Pharmacology Research Associate Program

The Pharmacology Research Associate (PRAT) Program constitutes the entire NIGMS intramural program and is intended to produce a cadre of well-trained scientists with the potential to become scientific leaders. It is a competitive postdoctoral program in which fellows pursue research in intramural NIH or FDA laboratories. PRAT Program co-director Dr. Richard Okita presented the results of a recent external evaluation of the program, which gave it high marks. Notably, the evaluation report concluded, "As far as we could tell from the interviews, there are no disadvantages–and many advantages–to being a PRAT fellow." Because of the wide range of areas supported by this successful fellowship program, and with the intention of opening the program to selected "cutting-edge opportunity" areas at NIH, it will be renamed the NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate Program. High-priority research areas for the next application round include computational biology and quantitative/systems pharmacology.

Contact: Dr. Richard Okita,, 301-594-3827

VI. Transforming Glycoscience: A Roadmap for the Future

The field of glycoscience explores the structures and functions of sugars. Glycans–also known as carbohydrates, saccharides or simply as sugars–play central roles in many biological processes and have properties useful in an array of applications. As discussed by Dr. Gerald Hart of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, a new National Academies of Sciences report details the promise of glycoscience in areas as diverse as medicine, energy generation and materials science. It also presents a roadmap for transforming glycoscience from a field dominated by specialists to a widely studied and integrated discipline with an accessible toolkit, which could lead to a more complete understanding of glycans and help solve key challenges in diverse fields.

Contacts: Dr. Gerald Hart,, 410-614-5993

VII. Concept Clearance: Research Centers in Trauma, Burn, and Peri-Operative Sciences (P50)

The P50 (research centers) funding mechanism has long been an important NIGMS strategy to fund injury-related research. Through a mix of hypothesis-based clinical and laboratory-based projects, the centers have advanced translational research in trauma and burn injury, sepsis and other multi-organ complications, and wound healing. Dr. Scott Somers requested, and received, Council approval to reissue the recently lapsed program announcement to solicit applications for Research Centers in Trauma, Burn, and Peri-Operative Sciences.

Contact: Dr. Scott Somers,, 301-594-3827

VIII. Concept Clearance: Translational Scholar Career Awards in Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine (K23)

Dr. Rochelle Long described the NIH cross-disciplinary career development program in pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine that requires dual mentors from two NIH programs: the Clinical Translational and Science Awards and the Pharmacogenomics Research Network. The program fulfills an NIH-wide goal to expand the pool of well-trained scientists who will apply pharmacogenomics knowledge to the eventual integration of personalized medicine into practice. Dr. Long requested, and received, Council approval to continue the program and request applications to fund a limited number of K23 awards.

Contact: Dr. Rochelle Long,, 301-594-3827

IX. Concept Clearance: Genomes to Natural Products (U01)

Natural products have shaped modern pharmacotherapy, agriculture and other commercial processes and play an important role in our everyday lives. Although about 75 percent of antibacterial and anticancer drugs are natural products themselves or have been inspired by natural products, the pharmaceutical industry has largely abandoned natural products-based drug discovery because of a diminishing discovery rate of new molecules and 99 percent rediscovery rate. Dr. Barbara Gerratana requested, and received, Council approval to solicit U01 applications from multidisciplinary teams including bioinformaticians and synthetic biologists to develop new tools and methodologies and to fill the knowledge gaps for broadly applicable high-throughput DNA-and bioinformatics-guided approaches for natural products discovery.

Contact: Dr. Barbara Gerratana,, 301-594-3827

X. Concept Clearance: Biomedical Technology Research Centers (X02, P41)

The Biomedical Technology Research Centers (BTRC) program, transferred in December 2011 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), currently supports 33 centers. The centers are national resources that develop and disseminate complex technologies broadly applicable for basic and clinical biomedical research. Each year, these centers train hundreds of researchers and share technologies to further the research goals of thousands of NIH grantees. Dr. Douglas Sheeley requested, and received, Council approval to continue to solicit BTRC pre-applications (X02) and applications (P41) for this program.

Contact: Dr. Douglas Sheeley,, 301-594-9762

XI. Concept Clearance: Instrument Development for Biomedical Applications (R21)

The Instrument Development for Biomedical Applications program, transferred in December 2011 from NCRR, supports exploratory research to develop new or improved instrumentation for biomedical research. It is a unique NIH program, owing to its focus on exploratory development of instrumentation applicable to a broad range of basic or clinical biomedical research that is not limited to a specific organ or disease. Dr. Fred Friedman requested, and received, Council approval to solicit R21 applications for this program.

Contact: Dr. Fred Friedman,, 301-435-0775

XII. Concept Clearance: Multi-Institute Broad-Based Innovations in Biomedical Information Science and Technology

NIGMS coordinates the Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative​ (BISTI) consortium, an NIH-wide community of program staff. One of the main BISTI activities is to issue a range of initiatives that promote research and development in biomedical informatics and computational biology that will support rapid progress in areas of scientific opportunity relevant to biomedical research. Dr. Peter Lyster requested, and received, Council approval to reissue four, broad-based initiatives that promote innovations in biomedical information science and technology.

Contact: Dr. Peter Lyster,, 301-451-6446

XIII. Review of NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) Applications

The NIH Pathway to Independence Award was designed to help speed a junior scientist's transition from postdoctoral research to his or her first R01 in an academic environment. As such, the two-component award consists of a mentored phase (K99) of 1 to 2 years, and an independent phase (R00) of 3 years. Dr. John Laffan reported challenges in obtaining the scientific expertise needed to review K99/R00 applications in the wide range of fields that NIGMS supports. He described the Institute's use of a two-stage, editorial-style review system for these applications, noting that the approach helps to ensure that applications are evaluated consistently and that they meet Institute programmatic needs.

Contact: Dr. John Laffan,, 301-594-2773


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


The meeting adjourned at 11:53 a.m. on September 7, 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