Looking Forward

Having been a fan of Jeremy Berg’s Feedback Loop posts, it’s a great pleasure to be writing one myself. I am very excited to be at NIGMS, and I am honored to have the chance to lead this extraordinary institute.

Over the past year, whenever I asked anyone familiar with NIGMS what the best thing about it was, they all said the same thing: the people who work there. My own observations have been completely consistent with these assessments. The staff at NIGMS is an exceptional group, deeply committed to ensuring that the biomedical and behavioral research enterprise thrives. No one embodies this commitment better than Judith Greenberg, who has done an outstanding job over the past 2 years steering the Institute through challenging times. I hope you will join me in thanking her for everything she has done.

A key part of Jeremy’s legacy at NIGMS was increasing communication between the Institute and the scientific community. I intend to stay on this course, using the Feedback Loop as well as other mechanisms to catalyze discussions. I encourage you to join in these conversations and to suggest specific questions that you’d like to see us address.

I also intend to push forward the data collection and analysis efforts begun by Jeremy, both to help inform our discussions with the scientific community and to guide our policy decisions.

Among my first orders of business are to conduct a thorough analysis of NIGMS’ grant portfolio and to begin developing a new strategic plan for the Institute. The overall goal of these synergistic undertakings is to ensure that we are investing the taxpayers’ money in the most efficient and effective way possible. Science and society both evolve rapidly, and the structures and strategies that worked well in the past are not necessarily optimal for the future. We will be thinking broadly, using data to inform our analyses, and we will be seeking your ideas and innovations.

This would also be a good time for the scientific community to engage in a parallel process of introspection, examining topics ranging from how the research enterprise is organized to how the impact of scientists’ work is assessed and recognized through peer review and other mechanisms. The process could happen both at a local level—within your own institutions—and at a national one, perhaps led by the relevant scientific and academic societies.

I will always be happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions, either through this blog or directly at jon.lorsch@nih.gov. I am looking forward to working with you!

7 comments on “Looking Forward

  1. Welcome, Jon. I am looking forward to your messages and being on the other side of the blog, pushing for more information and analysis…

  2. Thank you for your comments in response to my first post, both here and via direct e-mail.

    At about the same time as my post came out, I learned of an effort by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to catalyze discussions to promote a sustainable biomedical enterprise. Society president (and former NIGMS director) Jeremy Berg wrote a thoughtful piece about it in ASBMB Today that’s well worth reading.

  3. Hi Jon,

    First congratulations! I was really happy to hear about your new position. I hope that it’s everything you hope it will be.

    Second I read your piece “Looking Forward” with interest. The second last paragraph particularly struck me:

    This would also be a good time for the scientific community to engage in a parallel process of introspection, examining topics ranging from how the research enterprise is organized to how the impact of scientists’ work is assessed and recognized through peer review and other mechanisms. The process could happen both at a local level—within your own institutions—and at a national one, perhaps led by the relevant scientific and academic societies.

    Perhaps professional editors could/should also be involved in assessing the research enterprise. If that is of interest to you, I’d be happy to discuss further.

    At any rate, all the best to you as you go forward.

    Best,
    Boyana

    Boyana Konforti, PhD
    Editor
    Cell Reports
    http://www.cell.com/cell-reports

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