Seeking Thoughts on the Framework for the Next NIH-Wide Strategic Plan


Last week, we opened up the opportunity for the public to comment on the framework for the next NIH-Wide Strategic Plan (NOT-OD-20-064). This plan, for fiscal years (FYs) 2021-2025, will serve as an update to, and build off the progress made on, the current FYs 2016-2020 plan.

The NIH-Wide Strategic Plan expresses a vision for biomedical and behavioral research. It strives to capitalize on new opportunities for scientific exploration within our mission and address new challenges for human health.

We aim to clearly articulate NIH’s highest overall priorities in such a plan and how we will get there. It will touch on accomplishments achieved over the previous five years, along with examples of notable new initiatives. Though covering many areas of interest, it is not meant to describe everything NIH does. If you want more on the process to develop the next plan, check out Day 2 of the December 2019 Advisory Committee to the NIH Director meeting (go to 2 hours and 40 minutes in the videocast) and join us for webinars in March (see the plan’s webpage for information).

The framework identifies three key areas of focus for the plan (see table below), along with several cross-cutting themes that span the scope of these priorities.

Areas of Focus Topics to be Discussed
Advancing Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Driving Foundational Science, preventing Disease, Promoting Health, and Developing Treatments, Interventions, and Cures.
Developing, Maintaining, and Renewing Scientific Research Capacity Training the Biomedical Research Workforce as well as Supporting Research Resources and Infrastructure
Exemplifying and Promoting the Highest Level of Scientific Integrity, Public Accountability, and Social Responsibility in the Conduct of Science Fostering a Culture of Good Scientific Stewardship, Leveraging Partnerships, Optimizing Operations; and Ensuring Accountability and Confidence in Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences

Comments are welcomed from all on the plan’s proposed framework. We look forward to seeing your thoughts and feedback submitted electronically through the Request for Information webform by 11:59pm on April 1, 2020.

NIH is hosting webinars to describe the planning process and answer questions. Registration required:


  1. Problems with our aging population especially in women’s health like prolapse and urinary incontinence. This is a billion dollar health problem and will only get worse with the population over 65 doubling by 2050.

  2. I recently read Hoppe et al. (2019)’s “Topic Choice Contributes to the Lower Rate of NIH Awards to African-American/black Scientists”. (Sci Adv. 2019 Oct 9;5(10):eaaw7238. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw7238). I was stunned by the following statement in the discussion: “We found that 2.4% of reviewers were AA/B scientists (table S10), which is very similar to the percentage of applicants who are AA/B (2.1%; Fig. 1). While not underrepresented relative to applicants, the absolute number of AA/B reviewers is still quite small, and it is conceivable that a more demographically diverse group of reviewers might have different opinions on the significance of some grant applications.” ***2.4% of reviewers are African-American/black???*** I urge NIH to take immediate steps to increase dramatically the diversity of NIH reviewers. The 2.4% figure is a shameful indicator of what is meant by systemic racism in America, and we need to acknowledge that NIH is not working hard enough to overturn it, and dedicate ourselves now to that hard work.

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