Meet NIH & HHS in New Orleans for the NIH Regional Seminar, May 3-5!

Do you remember walking into the person’s office down the hall from you when you needed to ask a question, instead of “popping” them an email, instant message, or text? There’s no disputing that the digital age definitely has its advantages – making information sharing faster, cheaper, and more convenient, and allowing us to communicate locally and abroad in seconds. But in this fast paced world of instant communication – the internet, email, and all of our social media choices – sometimes we forget how valuable face-to-face interactions can be. That is exactly one of the reasons I love the NIH Regional Seminars on Grant Funding and Program Administration. The seminars give me the opportunity to join over 60 of my fellow NIH and HHS faculty in sharing our knowledge and perspectives to …. Continue reading

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Research Commitment Index: A New Tool for Describing Grant Support

On this blog we previously discussed ways to measure the value returned from research funding. Several of my colleagues and I, led by NIGMS director Jon Lorsch – chair of an NIH Working Group on Policies for Efficient and Stable Funding – conceived of a “Research Commitment Index,” or “RCI.” We focus on the grant activity code (R01, R21, P01, etc) and ask ourselves about the kind of personal commitment it entails for the investigator(s). We start with the most common type of award, the R01, and assign it an RCI value of 7 points. And then, in consultation with our NIH colleagues, we assigned RCI values to other activity codes: fewer points for R03 and R21 grants, more points P01 grants. Continue reading

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One Year (or so) of “Open Mike”

As the year 2016 ends, my first full year in my new role here at NIH, I’d like to reflect on some of the topics covered here on Open Mike. Thanks to our NIH Regional Seminars, I have had the pleasure of hearing feedback from some of you in person, and I am also greatly appreciative of our virtual interactions, through the thoughtful comments posted by blog readers in this space. Our blog opened on October 19, 2015, when I noted that NIH is an extraordinary success story; even skeptics identify NIH as a government program that works. But at the same time, I also noted that all is not well with the biomedical research enterprise. In many respects, the 50+ blogs that followed have dug deeper into our anxieties and challenges. The sidebar highlights five major themes arising over the past year or so, and blogs related to those categories. To get a sense of community interest, we have also compiled some reader statistics. Further below, Table 1 shows which blogs, as of December 27, received the most page views, and Table 2 shows which blogs received the most comments. These themes, your viewership, and your comments …. Continue reading

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The 21st Century Cures Act, and Perspectives from NIH

You may have been following news of the 21st Century Cures Act, a landmark piece of legislation with provisions for healthcare, medicine, and research. Republican and Democratic lawmakers supported this bill through its development and eventual passage, and yesterday, President Obama signed the bill into law. The Act establishes a multitude of important changes to our nation’s approach to supporting and funding health care, medical interventions, and research. Readers of this blog may be particularly interested in the many changes directly relevant to NIH’s mission. A New England Journal of Medicine Perspective essay …. Continue reading

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Give Us Your Feedback on Standards for Preprints, and Other Interim Research Products

Many scientific disciplines, like physics and mathematics, routinely communicate research findings through preprints — manuscripts that have not yet gone through the formal peer review, editing, or journal publishing process. However, this is still a relatively novel concept in biology and clinical research. …. we at NIH are interested in feedback from you, to get a fuller understanding of the current use of preprints in the broader NIH-supported research community, accepted preprint standards, whether preprints should be included in NIH applications and reports, and how investigators could report them. …. Not only are we interested in your current use of preprints — and other interim research products — but perhaps most importantly we’d like your feedback on the specific standards that need to be in place for their citation, particularly for citation in NIH applications and reports …. Continue reading

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Join Us in Chicago to Learn About NIH Program Funding and Grants Administration

In the spring, I attended my first NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration. I greatly enjoyed meeting with a diverse group of scientists and science administrators. During two “Open Mike” sessions, I had the opportunity to engage in rich conversations with attendees on topics I frequently include on this blog. The conversations were enjoyable and insightful – there’s nothing like discussing such important issues like funding trends, research accountability, and grants policy face-to-face with new and early career scientists. …. Why am I writing about a seminar that took place in May? Because I have some good news for those of you who didn’t get a chance to come to Baltimore! NIH is hosting a second Regional Seminar this year, from October 26-28 ….. Continue reading

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Honoring Recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers

This week I had the pleasure of meeting the newest recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. These awards, also known as PECASE, are the highest honor given by the federal government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. NIH is proud to support twenty PECASE recipients this year …. Continue reading

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NIH and FDA Seek Feedback on Clinical Trial Protocol Template

I’d like to call your attention to an opportunity to provide comments on a proposed clinical trial protocol template, developed by the FDA and NIH, and informed by the guidance set forth by the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) E6 Good Clinical Practice. The template provides a standard format, and corresponding instructions and sample text, for… Continue reading

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NIH’s Commitment to Basic Science

Several years ago, my colleagues and I analyzed the diversity of disease research supported by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and wrote about the importance of maintaining a diverse scientific portfolio. In times of scarce resources, it is tempting to prioritize investments that seem to offer a better promise of direct returns. In my current position as NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, I still feel strongly that maintaining a strong commitment to long-term goals and maintaining a diverse science portfolio ultimately balances risk and long- versus short-time pay-offs. Basic science is an essential component of this diverse portfolio. …. Continue reading

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A Pilot Partnership to Find Private Support for Unfunded Applications

When I was an editor at JAMA, we often considered papers that were strong, received favorable reviews, and yet could not be published for lack of space. As it turned out, we had an option other than outright rejection: we could offer authors a user-friendly pathway by which their papers, and the reviews that went with them, could be forwarded for consideration at another journal (e.g. JAMA Internal Medicine). Later, when I came to NIH I wondered whether it was even theoretically possible for a funding agency to do something similar: arrange a way for highly meritorious but unfunded projects to find their way to willing, even eager, alternate private-sector sponsors. Effectively, we could develop public-private partnerships to extend the system’s ability to fund high-quality science and scientists. …. Continue reading

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