Freedom of Information Act Office
IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
May 10, 2010
|Subject:||IC Directors Meeting Highlights—March 25, 2010|
Passage of Health Care Reform:
President Obama's signing of Health Care Reform represents an historic achievement, allowing 30 million Americans access to health care benefits and addressing a long-standing source of economic inequality. Several provisions in the legislation affect the NIH; most notably: 1) raising of NCMHD to Institute status and 2) establishment of the CURES Acceleration Network to enable NIH to bridge the "valley of death" between laboratory discovery and commercialization of cures and therapies. Careful review of the legislation is underway, which will inform future implementation discussions with Secretary Sebelius.
"Vaccines: Never a Dull Moment":
Dr. Fauci briefed the ICD on recent events surrounding the FDA's March 22, 2010 recommendation that clinicians temporarily suspend use of the Rotarix vaccine, which is used to combat Rotavirus infection, a leading cause of severe diarrheal disease, globally. Investigators in San Francisco used high-throughput genomic sequencing to test several vaccines for presence of exogenous viral sequences. They found significant levels of contaminating Porcine Circovirus 1 (PCV1) in two lots of Rotarix vaccine (made by GlaxoSmithKlein, GSK); this finding was subsequently confirmed by GSK after additional testing. PCV1 has never been associated with disease in animals or humans.
Rotavirus vaccines are licensed globally, and Rotarix is widely used in the developing world. Because of its wide use and strong safety record since its early development, Rotarix has not been taken off the market, but FDA has asked for a pause in its use while obtaining advice on how to proceed.
EEO State of the Agency Briefing Lawrence Self, OEODM
Mr. Larry Self presented the annual State of the Agency Briefing on NIH’s Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management efforts for the FY2009 and plans for FY2010. Mr. Self outlined DHHS goals for NIH in hiring individuals with targeted disabilities; it is a goal of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to have this population comprise 2% of the Federal workforce. Mr. Self asked IC Directors to consider several actions to champion and strive for diversity in the workplace. A recent pilot project collected self-reported applicant tracking data from an NIH program that recruits top-tier tenure-track candidates to the NIH Intramural program. The data showed that diversity exists in the applicant pool and identified useful sources to advertise and promote NIH programs.
Dr. Raynard Kington emphasized that the commitment to recruit a more diversified workforce must begin at the IC Director level and that a more determined effort will be necessary to elevate recruitment levels of under-represented minorities and individuals with targeted disabilities.
The Knockout Mouse Project James Battey, NIDCD
The laboratory mouse is considered a premiere experimental model of human biology and disease for over 100 years. Mouse gene "knockout" or inactivation has been used successfully to model human disorders and diseases, while also identifying other genes involved. The Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP) aims to generate a comprehensive and public resourse of mouse embryonic stem cells containing a knockout in every gene in the mouse genome. KOMP supports cataloging data of mutants in mouse strain C57BL/6, which is the most widely used mouse strain and its complete genome sequence has been made available.
Since its 2004 inception, KOMP has awarded cooperative agreements for creation of knockout mice lines, for set up of a KOMP data coordination center, to improve efficiency of creating knockout mice lines, and for establishment of a KOMP repository to increase availability of mice and related materials. Production of mutant cell lines have caught up to cell goals and the KOMP website (www.knockoutmouse.org) provides complete information on allele design, vector, genotyping and sequencing primers. Activity in the KOMP repository has increased in terms of both orders and new accounts. The phenotyping phase of KOMP has begun and includes international workshops and a pilot project of broad-based phenotyping of 500 mutant lines.
Systems Biology of Early Embryos and ES Cells Minoru Ko, NIA
Dr. Minoru Ko gave a scientific presentation on his systematic gene perturbation study, which has created and analyzed more than 100 mouse ES cell lines, in each of which a specific transcription factor can be induced. Among these genes, he highlighted Zscan4, which was originally found by large-scale cDNA sequencing project and subsequent microarray study on mouse preimplantation embryos. Zscan4 is expressed in only 5%, of ES cells at a given time. Zscan4 expression is transient and reversible, and its knockdown in expression leads to a culture crisis of ES cells within 8 passages. Telomere shortening is one mechanism for chromosome deterioration, and expression of Zscan4 regulates telomere elongation and provides genomic stability through promotion of telomere recombination, while inhibiting spontaneous non-telomeric sister chromatid exchange. While pluripotency and self-renewal are defining features of embryonic stem (ES) cells, another important hallmark is their ability to defy cellular senescence, enabling ES cells to undergo multiple passages without crisis or transformation. Results indicate that Zscan4 may be a master gene, assisting cells to defy senescence through maintenance of telomeres, genomic integrity and normal chromosomal complement.
Recognition — Louise Myers:
Dr. Collins closed the meeting by recognizing the service of Louise Myers, current Acting Associate Director in the Office of Budget (OB). Ms. Myers will retire on April 2nd after 29 years of service to NIH and the NIH budget community.