Save the Date: Commemorating the Life and Accomplishments of Ruth Kirschstein

Ruth Kirschstein, M.D.Since I first wrote about the death of former NIGMS director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, plans have progressed for a daylong commemorative event on Monday, May 17, at NIH. The program will include several remembrances as well as scientific presentations and posters by recipients of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award.

I will update you when the final program is available.

Most NIGMS Recovery Act Funds Now Committed

Recovery Act Logo - Recovery.govAt this point in Fiscal Year 2010, we have committed nearly all of our Recovery Act funds. If you have not yet heard about the status of a supplement request, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to fund it.

As Jeremy Berg noted in an earlier post, we set a high priority on getting the funds out quickly, obligating approximately 90% of our allocation by the end of September 2009. We were able to fund about 40%
of the administrative supplement requests we received.

New NIH Director’s Initiative on Scientific Workforce Diversity

NIH recently announced the NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce, a new program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that NIGMS will manage. The program is designed to foster new ways of thinking about initiatives related to scientific workforce diversity. Awards will empower exceptionally creative scientists to develop highly innovative, and possibly transformative, approaches to this complex challenge.

NIH expects to make approximately five awards, each up to $2 million in total costs over a 3-year period. Awardees must commit a substantial portion (generally 30% or more) of their research effort to the funded activities. Also note that letters of intent—which are encouraged but not required—are due by April 5 and that applications are due by May 4.

If you’d like more information, please e-mail Clif Poodry or call him
at 301-594-3900.

Collaborate to Study Mechanisms of Behavior in Animal Models

We’ve reissued the Collaborative Research for Molecular and Genomic Studies of Behavior in Animal Models program announcement. Applicants must be new collaborators with complementary expertise in animal behavior and in genetics, molecular biology or genomics.

The first deadlines for new applications or resubmissions are June 7, 2010, and July 6, 2010, respectively. You also can submit an application for any of the subsequent standard NIH R01 application deadlines through May 2013.

Want more information? See the funding opportunity announcement, read my post from December or contact me.

Capitol Hill Briefing on Basic Research

Investing in Discovery slideLast week, I gave a briefing to congressional staff members and other interested parties about the role of basic science in biomedical research. The event was sponsored by the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Exit icon and the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus Exit icon.

My talk Exit icon, titled “Investing in Discovery: The Impact of Basic Research and the Role of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences,” focused on three themes:

  • The tremendous unity of biology at the molecular level, which enables researchers to use model organisms for discovery and other experiments directed toward uncovering fundamental biological mechanisms;
  • How knowledge of these fundamental mechanisms provides a crucial underpinning for more applied studies relevant to human health and disease; and
  • The role of individuals, particularly scientists relatively early in their careers, in making these discoveries.

I presented these themes in the context of two scientific endeavors:

  • The discovery of telomeres and telomerase, recognized by the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine; and
  • The elucidation of genetic factors in determining the effective dose of warfarin (Coumadin), one of the early successes in pharmacogenomics.

I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to highlight the impact and importance of the research that NIGMS funds.

Minority Programs Updates

Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) LogoI want to let you know about recent changes to our Minority Biomedical Research Support Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS RISE) program and about two upcoming technical assistance workshops.


Applicants for this program, which enhances student development at minority-serving institutions, now must select and apply for one of three options based on their institution’s track record of students graduating and pursuing Ph.D.s in the biomedical or behavioral sciences and their number of faculty participating in funded biomedical research as principal investigators. For more information, see the latest program announcement.

Technical Assistance Workshops

These one-day regional workshops led by NIGMS staff will discuss MBRS RISE and a similar program, Minority Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-U*STAR). The workshops, which are geared toward individuals who would like to learn more about these programs, will examine the program announcements, offer tips on preparing applications and discuss recent changes in peer review.

To get other news about NIGMS minority programs and information of interest to participants in these programs, subscribe to the Minority Programs Update e-newsletter.

Give Us Input for Our Strategic Plan on Training and Career Development

Give us your input on the future of NIGMS-sponsored research trainingI’m proud of NIGMS’ long and strong commitment to research training and biomedical workforce development. As biomedical research and its workforce needs evolve, we want to be sure that our training and career development activities most effectively meet current demands, anticipate emerging opportunities and help build a highly capable, diverse biomedical research workforce.

To this end, we are beginning to develop a strategic plan focused on research training and career development, and we want your input.

Between March 2 and April 21, you can anonymously submit comments at

You can also give us input at one of the regional stakeholder meetings we’re holding in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco between April and June 2010. If you’re a pre- or postdoc, you can participate in a special webinar designed just for you on June 11, 2010.

You don’t need to be an NIGMS grantee to share your thoughts on this important topic. We want to hear from individuals with many different perspectives, so in addition to responding yourself, I encourage you to let others know of these opportunities to offer comments.

As the planning process unfolds, look for updates on the Feedback Loop.