Many Recommendations, Many Ways to Move Forward


It has been an exciting time at the NIH over the past two days. The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) met for its regular biannual meeting on campus, and the agenda was jam-packed. Three separate working groups tasked with assessing important issues—the future of the biomedical research workforce, diversity in the workforce, and data and informatics—concluded their work and presented their recommendations to the ACD.   

First, on Thursday afternoon, Shirley Tilghman presented the conclusions of the work done by the working group she and I chaired that evaluated the future of the biomedical research workforce (read previous posts here and here). The presentation included a snapshot of the current biomedical research workforce, as well as recommendations to the ACD about funding and training of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and about how to improve and maintain robust data collection on the biomedical research workforce to provide accurate information to those in the field and those thinking about joining it.

Immediately after that, Reed Tuckson presented the results of the working group he chaired with Larry Tabak and John Ruffin that was tasked with making recommendations to improve the recruitment and retention of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds in biomedical research careers. The recommendations are focused on data collection and evaluation; mentoring, and career preparation and retention; institutional support; bias-related research and intervention testing within the context of peer review; and a NIH diversity strategy and infrastructure.  

Last, but definitely not least, on Friday morning Dave DeMets presented the findings of the working group he and Larry Tabak chaired that was asked to provide expert advice on the management, integration, and analysis of large biomedical research datasets. The recommendations of this group covered both the extramural and the intramural communities and touched on data sharing, informatics methods and applications, training in the quantitative disciplines, and an NIH-wide IT strategic plan.  

You can read all the recommendations and obtain copies of the reports on the ACD website. We also posted additional data on the biomedical research workforce on the RePORT website.

At this point in time, all of these recommendations are under consideration by Dr. Collins. He has a lot to consider, and I will update you on developments as they happen. In the meantime, I will be dissecting and discussing some of the data behind these reports in future blogs.

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