Comment on Proposed Framework for NIH-Wide Strategic Plan

NIH is currently gathering input from the scientific community, including stakeholder organizations, on the proposed framework for its 5-year strategic plan. Responses are due by August 16, 2015.

We’ve been asked to share this message from NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak about the call for comments and suggestions:

In order to advance the NIH mission, the NIH is developing an NIH-wide Strategic Plan. The goal of this 5-year plan is to outline a vision for biomedical research that ultimately extends healthy life and reduces illness and disability. NIH senior leadership and staff have developed a proposed framework for the Strategic Plan that identifies areas of opportunity across all biomedicine and unifying principles to guide NIH’s support of the biomedical research enterprise. The aim is to pursue crosscutting areas of research that span NIH’s 27 Institutes, Centers, and Offices.

I invite you to review the framework in our Request for Information and on the NIH website, and to provide your feedback via the RFI submission site. I encourage stakeholder organizations (e.g., patient advocacy groups, professional societies) to submit a single response reflective of the views of the organization/membership as a whole. We also will be hosting webinars to gather additional input. These webinars will be held in early to mid-August.

Your input is vital to ensuring that the NIH Strategic Plan positions biomedical research on a promising and visionary path. I appreciate your time and consideration in assisting us with this effort.

The webinars Exit icon mentioned in Larry’s message are scheduled for August 5, 11 and 13.

2 comments on “Comment on Proposed Framework for NIH-Wide Strategic Plan

  1. 1. Under Unifying Principles is a statement about prioritizing based on disease burdens. There is nothing about how to -or whether to- prioritize basic research. Although basic (fundamental) research is identified in Areas of Opportunities, it may be (inadvertently) lost as a priority as additional ‘filters’ are put in place.
    2. “Basic Science is the foundation for progress” This premise is essentially universally agreed upon. But saying it doesn’t make it so, and most would agree that this foundation is not being supported currently. So this would appear to require special attention, if indeed it is a true priority. There are many many impediments in the current system to truly valuing and nurturing basic research. These have been widely discussed and I highlight just a few here within space allotted: i. ‘Incremental research’ -which is the hallmark of most impactful basic research- is a phrase that when uttered by a reviewer kills a grant; ii. new faculty (or postdocs on the job market) are told (by other scientists) that they must have a translational component to be hired or get their grants funded (resulting in fewer and fewer basic scientists and less and less basic science); iii. in an age of hyper-competition, work that builds (appropriately) on a pre-existing foundation is insufficient (for grant renewal, tenure, getting a job), whereas research that purports a new paradigm (most often without proper scholarship or support and often incorrectly) is rewarded by high profile papers.

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