Freedom of Information Act Office
IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
May 21, 2002
|From:||Acting Director, Executive Secretariat|
|Subject:||IC Directors' Meeting Highlights May 9, 2002|
I. Budget for Research on Bioterrorism
Dr. Fauci briefly explained the background of this issue and the difference between biowarfare and bioterrorism. Biowarfare relates to the military use of biological agents; bioterrorism (or biodefense as it is now being called) is a civil defense issue. The Office of Homeland Security played a major role in the distribution of the bioterrorism portion of the FY03 President's budget. CDC, NIH, FDA, and OEP play complementary roles within HHS. NIH's role is to conduct basic research and to develop medical interventions. We received $274.5 million for this purpose (including a supplement) in FY02. The FY03 President's budget proposed $1.75 billion for the NIH for these activities, and Dr. Fauci reviewed how that money will be spent for construction of research facilities, basic research on agents of bioterrorism, drug/vaccine/diagnostics discovery and development, and clinical research. He also explained the reallocation among categories for the FY03 through FY06 budgets. After FY03 the amount allotted to research facilities construction drops while the amount dedicated to research increases significantly.
NIAID developed a strategic plan for counter-bioterrorism research as well as a research agenda that was subsequently reviewed and commented upon in February by a blue ribbon panel of ad hoc reviewers; the comments of the panel were incorporated into revised documents. Both documents are available on NIAID's Web site. The strategic plan recommends basic research into microbes with bioterrorism potential as well as applied/translational research. The translational research would have pre-determined milestones and would ultimately lead to new and improved diagnostics, vaccines, and therapies.
Dr. Maddox asked about the involvement of the other ICs in the biodefense arena. On the intramural side, NIAID has established a pool of money that scientists from any IC who want to pursue research related to biodefense can apply for. Dr. Fauci is strongly in favor of partnerships among ICs; Dr. Jack Killen will coordinate with other ICs on research that fits under the broad umbrella of biodefense. He cautioned that OMB has directed that this money must be used for research that is clearly related to biodefense. Dr. Penn said the neurological community is worried about agents of chemical warfare, such as nerve gas. Dr. Fauci said the HHS/NIH role in chemical and radiation warfare research is still unclear since other agencies have been given primary responsibility for these areas.
II. NIH Support for New Investigators
Dr. Baldwin explained that when the R29 program was eliminated in 1998 NIH made a commitment to sustain the number of new investigators at the 1997 level or higher. There are two definitions of a new investigator in use, and Dr. Baldwin reviewed the number of awards made to new investigators from 1997 through 2000 using each definition. The two definitions yield similar results. The number of new investigators has not dropped but shows an encouraging trend, and it appears that new investigators who stay in the system are doing well. Dr. Baldwin also reviewed strategies currently used by ICs for ensuring a stable or increasing number of new investigators. She stressed the need to get the word out that funding new investigators is a priority and to make public the strategies we are pursuing to accomplish this. She also distributed FASEB information on new investigators that focuses on individual ICs.
Dr. Ehrenfeld noted that individual ICs use a variety of strategies. She said there are real inconsistencies among study sections. Each reviewer will receive guidelines for reviewing new investigator R01s, which she distributed. Each study section will receive a chart comparing how that study section has reviewed new investigators for the last three rounds of review. Dr. Ehrenfeld also noted the need for a consistent definition of a new investigator.
III. GPRA Update
Dr. Skirboll reported that NIH will be subject to a full review by OMB this fall. At the end of this review, OMB will determine whether NIH is an "effective program." With regard to our GPRA goals, OMB insists that we quantify each of our research subgoals; for example, we propose developing X model systems by Y date.
IV. Information Items
Dr. Kirschstein reported that Dr. Zerhouni will be sworn in as NIH Director within the next two weeks. She will advise him to wait to visit national advisory councils until the next round. He plans to attend the NIH Budget Retreat on June 1.
Dr. Battey distributed an article from the May 3 issue of Science magazine entitled "Large-Scale Transcriptional Activity in Chromosomes 21 and 22."
Dr. Maddox will meet tomorrow with Mr. Wood and Ms. Schofield to discuss NIH advisory boards and councils.
Karen Pelham O'Steen
cc: OD Staff