Recap of 2009


This past year has been both exciting and at times challenging, but as we reflect on 2009 one thing that we can be sure of is that the changes NIH, and extramural community, has experienced will foster continued prosperity in 2010 and beyond. Over the last twelve months, NIH has welcomed a new director, issued new stem cell guidelines, re-invested in the American economy, entered the final implementation phase of the Enhancing Peer Review initiative, and reviewed the financial conflict of interest policy.

The March 9, 2009 executive order issued by President Obama on research involving human stem cells led to changes in the way the NIH can support and conduct human stem cell research. We developed new guidelines, which went into effect July 7, establishing stem cell policy and procedures for the extramural NIH community. We are excited to see what scientific advancements new stem cell lines will bring in 2010.

The NIH has issued more than 12,000 Recovery Act-funded grants, with about half of the $10.4B appropriated funds distributed. With many of the ARRA-supported research projects getting underway in the New Year, we look forward to seeing an increase in jobs and scientific opportunities as we embark on 2010.

The Enhancing Peer Review initiative, which began in 2007, will culminate with implementation of restructured/shortened applications beginning in January 2010. The changes will affect the majority of competing applications and resubmissions intended for January 25, 2010 due dates and beyond.

In 2009, NIH began consideration of revisions and enhancements of the current NIH financial conflict of interest regulations (45 CFR Part 50 Subpart F ) and posted an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (ANPRM) in May 2009 for public comment. NIH strongly believes that it is vital that all research be conducted with the highest scientific and ethical standards. The introduction of bias in the conduct of NIH-supported research is antithetical to these principles and will not be tolerated. Many of the questions asked in the ANPRM match the issues raised by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in its recent report How Grantees Manage Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research Funded by the National Institutes of Health. As recognized by the OIG in its report, NIH has demonstrated its commitment to oversight activities and continues to make them an agency priority. The OIG recommendations will be considered by the NIH, along with public comments received in response to the ANPRM, as it formulates a new regulation that will facilitate effective compliance and oversight of investigator financial conflict of interest. We expect 2010 to bring with it the proposed new regulation, which will be posted in the Federal Register and open for public comment as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

As we embark on 2010, we will continue to work and provide you, the extramural community, with up to date information. And I, for one, am excited to see how the policies and changes we made in 2009 will lead to an increased vitality in research, unprecedented transparency into the grants process, greater collaboration, and lastly, ground-breaking and innovative science in 2010 and beyond.