Dr. Judith Greenberg

About Dr. Judith Greenberg

Judith is the deputy director of NIGMS. In the past, she’s also served as the acting director of the Institute and as the director of the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology. She led the development of the NIGMS strategic plan issued in 2008 and the development and implementation of the NIGMS strategic plan for training issued in 2011.

Jeremy Brown to Direct NIGMS-Housed Emergency Care Research Office

Photo of Jeremy Brown, M.D.Last July, I announced the creation of a trans-NIH Office of Emergency Care Research (OECR) housed in NIGMS. OECR now has a permanent director: Jeremy Brown, M.D. His NIH appointment will begin in July.

Although the office won’t directly fund emergency care research and training, it will coordinate and communicate about basic, clinical and translational emergency care research activities at the NIH institutes and centers that do support them, including NIGMS. These efforts will create a higher profile for this critical area of biomedical research. OECR also will partner with other government agencies and organizations engaged in broader efforts to improve emergency care nationwide.

Dr. Brown brings an impressive mix of clinical expertise, research experience, management abilities and communication skills to this important new position. We welcome him to NIH and look forward to working with him.

Research on Women in Biomedical Careers

A group of NIH grantees convened last November to present and discuss their studies on causal factors and possible interventions affecting the representation of women in biomedical and behavioral research and engineering. Their work is funded through a trans-NIH initiative spearheaded by NIGMS and the Office of Research on Women’s Health. Through this effort, NIH is gathering evidence that will help guide future plans and actions in this arena.

Here are several key areas of focus that are emerging from the research:

  • Bias is powerful and often unconscious, but it can be measured, and it can be altered.
  • Mentor networks are often more effective than mentor pairs.
  • Workplace culture affects career satisfaction and performance, and aspects of culture can be measured and changed.
  • Institutional flexibility policies are typically under-recognized and under-used, in part due to ingrained academic culture and lack of leadership buy-in.

For more on the workshop, read the just-posted summary.

Budget Outlook for Fiscal Year 2013 and Beyond

As a result of the sequestration, the NIGMS full-year appropriation for Fiscal Year 2013 was reduced by about 5% compared to Fiscal Year 2012. This reduction brings our operating budget to $2,291,294,437. Our financial management plan outlines the Institute’s fiscal policies, which are consistent with NIH’s policies:

Research Project Grants (RPGs)

  • Inflationary increases will be discontinued for all competing and noncompeting awards (both modular and nonmodular).
  • All noncompeting grants will be reduced by 3.5% from the Fiscal Year 2013 committed level. Commitments in Fiscal Year 2014 and beyond will remain unchanged.
  • Overall average costs for competing RPGs will be at approximately the Fiscal Year 2012 level. Inflationary increases for future-year commitments will be discontinued.
  • Fiscal Year 2013 noncompeting awards that have already been issued at a reduced level will be revised upward to reflect the 3.5% reduction.
  • New investigators on R01-equivalent awards will be supported at a success rate equivalent to that of established investigators submitting new (Type 1) R01-equivalent applications.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards

  • The stipend levels established in Fiscal Year 2012 will be continued this fiscal year.

Centers and Other Mechanisms

  • Noncompeting awards will be reduced by 3.5% from the initial Fiscal Year 2013 committed level.

Fiscal Year 2012 R01 Funding Outcomes

Fiscal Year 2012 ended on September 30, 2012. As in previous years, we have analyzed the funding results (including percentiles and success rates) for R01 grants, shown in Figures 1-5. Thanks to Jim Deatherage for preparing these data again this year.

Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2012.
View larger image

Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2012.

Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2008-2012. For Fiscal Year 2012, the success rate for R01 applications was 25%, and the midpoint of the funding curve was at approximately the 20th percentile.
View larger image

Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2008-2012. For Fiscal Year 2012, the success rate for R01 applications was 25%, and the midpoint of the funding curve was at approximately the 20th percentile.

In Fiscal Year 2012, there was a slight improvement in success rate. This is due in part to the relatively flat number of competing applications that we received (Figure 4).

Figure 3. Number of R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting) funded in Fiscal Years 1998-2012.
View larger image

Figure 3. Number of R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting) funded in Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

Figure 4. Number of competing R01 applications (including resubmissions) received during Fiscal Years 1998-2012.
View larger image

Figure 4. Number of competing R01 applications (including resubmissions) received during Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

Below are the total NIGMS expenditures (including both direct and indirect costs) for R01 and R37 grants for Fiscal Year 1996 through Fiscal Year 2012.

Figure 5. The upper curve shows the overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1996-2012. The lower curve (right vertical axis) shows the median direct costs of NIGMS R01 grants. Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.
View larger image

Figure 5. The upper curve shows the overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1996-2012. The lower curve (right vertical axis) shows the median direct costs of NIGMS R01 grants. Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.

Jon R. Lorsch Named NIGMS Director

Photo of Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D. Credit: Mike Ciesielski.
                                   Credit: Mike Ciesielski

I am delighted to tell you that NIH Director Francis Collins today announced his selection of Jon R. Lorsch as the new director of NIGMS. Dr. Lorsch expects to begin his appointment here in the summer of 2013.

Dr. Lorsch comes to NIH from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he is a professor in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. He earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University with Jack Szostak and was a postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry at Stanford University with Daniel Herschlag. His research, which NIGMS has funded since 2000, focuses on translation initiation in eukaryotes. During his tenure at Hopkins, Dr. Lorsch was also involved in graduate and medical education, including curriculum reform, mentoring and spearheading new biomedical education initiatives.

In meeting with Dr. Lorsch, I have been most impressed by his understanding of NIH and the issues that are central to the NIGMS mission of supporting basic research, research training and workforce diversity. He brings a passion for science, a commitment to education and demonstrated leadership. We very much look forward to welcoming and working with him.

Operating Under a Continuing Resolution and Sequestration

At this time, we are continuing to fund noncompeting grants at 90%, which is consistent with our practice during the continuing resolutions of fiscal years 2006-2012. We are taking a conservative approach to funding competing awards until we have a budget for the rest of the year. This may occur through another continuing resolution or an appropriations bill.

When we have more information about the budgetary outlook for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013, I will share our funding plans. I want to assure you that we are working very hard to minimize the impact on our ability to fund grants.

For more information about NIH operations under the sequester, see the blog post from NIH’s Sally Rockey and a letter to grantee institutions about the potential impact of this budget reduction.

Progress Report on the NIGMS Strategic Plan

In 2008, NIGMS issued a strategic plan, Investing in Discovery, that was intended to provide guidance for the Institute over the next 5 years. How well have we done in addressing the plan’s strategic goals? After a critical self-examination, we have produced a progress report that describes some of our accomplishments, strategic decisions and outcomes.

To cite a few highlights, we have:

  • Maintained a funding success rate of approximately 24 percent and funded about 200 new/early-stage investigators each year.
  • Maintained peer review excellence through the implementation and evaluation of innovative review practices.
  • Examined our large-scale science initiatives to determine which to continue, change or phase out, while also ensuring that the resulting knowledge and resources are made widely available to the broader scientific community.
  • Published Investing in the Future, our strategic plan for biomedical and behavioral research training, which articulates a clear, multiyear approach and strategy to ensure that future NIGMS-supported training reflects scientific and workforce needs and contributes to the development of a strong and diverse biomedical research workforce.
  • Established a new Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, which merges NIGMS research training programs with activities that were previously in the Institute’s Division of Minority Opportunities in Research.
  • Launched this blog to share information about funding opportunities and trends, meetings and scientific resources with our grantees, applicants and others in the scientific community.

I encourage you to read the report for further details and to let us know your thoughts. Although the plan was originally envisioned as a 5-year guide, it is still relevant, and because we hope to have a permanent director later this year, we decided to wait until 2014 to pursue a new strategic planning process.

Blogging at NIH

Communication and transparency are core values of NIGMS, and the Feedback Loop is one way we put those values into practice. On the occasion of our 300th blog post, we take a moment to look back, look ahead, and look for your continued input.

Our former director, Jeremy Berg, started the Feedback Loop in 2005 as an e-newsletter distributed three times a year. In 2009, we switched it to a blog format to share information in a timelier way and provide a better platform for discussion. Since then, more than 50 NIGMS staff members have contributed posts announcing funding opportunities, meetings and job openings; offering application guidance and tips; sharing funding trend data and other analyses; and more.

Whether posted on the blog or addressed to me or other staff, your comments and questions have helped us provide or clarify information about the funding process and other topics important to you.

Since we created this blog, a number of other NIH components have started blogs of their own. Sally Rockey of the NIH Office of Extramural Research has been blogging for nearly 2 years on Rock Talk about grant policies, funding trends and other issues of interest to the extramural research community. And earlier this month, Francis Collins launched the NIH Director’s Blog to highlight recent discoveries in biology and medicine. We look forward to new opportunities for synergy with these and other blogs.

Above all, we hope you find the Feedback Loop a useful resource. As always, we welcome your comments, input and feedback on topics for future posts or other ways the blog can best meet your needs.

Wanted: Director of the Office of Emergency Care Research

As I told you in July, NIGMS houses the new NIH Office of Emergency Care Research (OECR), which was created to advance, coordinate and provide information about basic, clinical and translational biomedical research and research training within the emergency care setting.

The search is now open for an outstanding physician and leader in emergency medicine research to oversee this office as its first director. This position offers an important and unique opportunity to shape trans-NIH approaches to improving the health outcomes of persons with emergency medical conditions.

Candidates must possess an M.D. and professional knowledge of and skill in applying concepts, principles and methodology in clinical emergency medicine. For additional qualification requirements, evaluation criteria and application instructions, please view the vacancy announcements for:

Supervisory Medical Officer, GS15 Clinical, Extramural (NCI, NHLBI, NIAID, NIGMS, and NICHD)
or
Supervisory Medical Officer, GS15 Research, Extramural (NCI, NHLBI, NIGMS and NIAID)

You can apply to either one. A key difference between the two is that the first one requires a current, valid medical license. The listings close on November 4, 2012.

I encourage you to share this information with others who may be interested in applying.

UPDATE: This vacancy listing has been extended to November 6, 2012, due to weather issues during the week of October 29.

Watch Our 50th Anniversary Scientific Symposium Online

DeWitt Stetten, Jr. 50th Anniversary Symposium poster.

We’re looking forward to a very special event this week—a symposium on the NIH campus marking our 50th anniversary. If you can’t join us in person, you can watch the talks online.

The event is on Wednesday, October 17, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. NIH Director Francis Collins will lead things off by sharing his perspective on the Institute and the research it funds. Next will be talks by three NIGMS grantees—Carlos Bustamante, Kathy Giacomini and Tim Mitchison—who reflect the range of our support as well as the theme of our anniversary: “investigate, innovate, inspire.”

You can watch the event live or later.