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Freedom of Information Act Office

IC Directors' Meeting Highlights

September 22, 2009

To: IC Directors
From: Penny Burgoon
Subject: IC Directors Meeting Highlights—September 10, 2009

Discussion Items

Common Fund and Roadmap

Dr. Collins summarized the origins of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, which was an experimental space where projects could be explored and piloted that were high risk, potentially transformative, and of benefit to the missions of multiple ICs. Today, many of the original Roadmap projects are still contained within the Roadmap project space, and issues exist regarding exit strategies out of the Roadmap. Tradeoffs will need to be made to keep the Roadmap within budget and to create opportunities for new ideas. Also, new ways for soliciting innovative ideas should also be considered prior to the next information-gathering process.

Dr. Lana Skirboll was recognized for her leadership as Acting Director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI), which includes the Office of Strategic Coordination that manages the Roadmap.

Roadmap Midcourse review: Nanomedicine Initiative – Dr. Paul Sieving, NEI; Dr. Jeff Schloss, NHGRI; Dr. Richard Fisher, NEI

The NIH Nanomedicine Roadmap effort began as a ten-year plan for development of Centers with interdisciplinary research teams whose tasks would be to (1) learn to manipulate and re-engineer biology in vivo with the same level of precision as materials scientists engineer novel materials at the nanoscale, and (2) use that knowledge towards disease treatment. This focus builds conceptually on the NIH’s participation in the National Nanotechnology Initiative yet is distinct from the NIH’s other ongoing investments in nanotechnology. The Nanomedicine project team solicited ideas from the scientific community in the form of Nanomedicine white papers. From these ideas, eight Nanomedicine Development Centers were created over a period of two years. Throughout this process, the Nanomedicine project team has used Flexible Research Authority (FRA), given to NIH in legislation, which afforded flexibility in the review process and creation of new funding mechanisms and also allowed for flexible award management and allocation of resources, including increasing and decreasing the size and number of centers. From the outset, FRA has proven to be a powerful tool for the NIH project team to work closely with the centers in planning their transition from developing new basic science knowledge of subcellular processes to using that knowledge for pre-clinical demonstration studies.

Currently, two of the Nanomedicine Development Centers are being phased out of the program as they developed research projects which could be supported by other NIH funding. The plans for the remaining centers include developing milestones for translational research, issuing a new solicitation for collaborators, and using the FRA to make awards so the program's collaborative structure is enhanced without growing center budgets. It is expected that by the end of their ten years of support by the common fund (Roadmap) the centers will be engaged in focused projects that can compete for traditional NIH funding.

Dr. Wah Chiu, Baylor University, gave a brief presentation on the accomplishments and status of his nanomedicine Center for Protein Folding Machinery.

Discussion addressed issues such as revision of project team goals for the centers, decisions that would be made if the budget is not sufficient, collaborative efforts and successes of the other centers, and the nanomedicine exit strategy out of the Roadmap. Most of the center investigators are successful researchers with other NIH funding, so the project team takes care that investigators’ efforts are in line with the nanomedicine effort and distinct from their other support.

Roadmap Midcourse review: Imaging Probe Development Center (IPDC) was postponed to the subsequent IC Directors meeting on September 24th.

This page last reviewed on September 13, 2011

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