Requesting Input on the Support of Biomedical Technology Development

NIGMS is in the process of considering how best to support two important activities: the development of biomedical technologies and access to those technologies as they become research resources. These topics are strongly related, but there are aspects of each that should be explored independently. An important part of this process is getting input from the community, so we’ve issued a request for information (RFI) focused on technology development. A subsequent RFI will extend the discussion to the support of research resources.

There are two main issues that we’re thinking hard about right now as we consider how our technology development programs should be structured:

  • The relationship between technology development and question-based biomedical research. We’re particularly interested in whether and how technology development and question-driven research should be coupled in different circumstances. Coupling technology development with addressing biomedical research problems can help ensure the relevance of the tools that emerge, but it may not always be necessary or appropriate.
  • Supporting the full range of biomedical technology development. We’re interested in the effective support of all aspects of technology development, from the exploration of emerging concepts to the conversion of fragile technologies into standard tools.

We’d also like to hear your thoughts on how technology development project applications are reviewed and how funded programs should be evaluated.

While the RFI invites comments on several specific topics, you should not feel limited to them—we welcome any comments that you feel are relevant. And remember that we’ll be issuing a separate request for input on how best to support research resources.

To respond to this RFI, send an e-mail to by August 7.

If you have any questions about the RFI, please let us know.

One comment on “Requesting Input on the Support of Biomedical Technology Development

  1. I agree that problem driving technology development is an excellent approach for pushing the envelop of new technology and methodology that will benefit biomedical research at large. We should keep in mind that the technology development is a long-term endeavor. The current format of funding P41 including innovative technology development and collaboration has been cost effective. Obviously, another mechanism of supporting innovative idea of new methodology with a narrow scope is via R01. Since many complex biomedical problems would require more than one methodology, we should also consider a Program Project or Center grant mechanism which is problem centric and encourages innovative technology development and the integration of multiple technologies. For instance, we may consider a new RFA to solicit new approaches to understand comprehensively some well-known biological processes such as protein folding, protein degradation and gene expression control.

    The expectation of P41 Center to engage in service and training may over burden their innovative activities. When some of the instrumentation and/or computational intensive technologies mature, it will require different funding mechanism to make them available to the biomedical users. The X-ray beamline operation appears to be a good business model but its adoption to other technology should be carefully thought through because different technologies would have different constraints.

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