Author: Dr. Judith Greenberg

Headshot of Judith Greenberg.

Judith is the deputy director of NIGMS. She's also currently serving as the acting director of the Division of Biophysics, Biomedical Technology, and Computational Biosciences. In the past, she's also served as the acting director of the Institute and as the director of the former 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.

Posts by Dr. Judith Greenberg

NIH Common Fund Input Request

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NIH Common FundThe NIH Common Fund supports trans-NIH programs in strategic areas to address roadblocks and catalyze progress in biomedical research. Two Common Fund programs are the Pioneer Award and New Innovator Award, which I just posted about.

Each year, NIH asks internal and external scientists and stakeholders to identify new ideas for Common Fund programs. NIH is now seeking broader input on the proposed concepts to help shape them into new programs for 2013. The feedback period is open until September 14.

For more information about the Common Fund and its current programs, read this recent blog post from NIH’s Sally Rockey.

NIH Director’s Award Programs Keep ‘Pioneering’ and ‘Innovating’

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NIH Director’s Pioneer AwardNIH recently conducted an evaluation of the short-term outcome of the NIH Director Pioneer’s Award program, which started in 2004 and is managed by NIGMS. The report was positive and confirmed that the research supported by the program truly has been pioneering, not only in pursuing highly creative and often unconventional approaches but also in leading to additional “high-risk, high-reward” programs at NIH and other funding agencies.

We hope to see many more highly innovative ideas submitted for the next Pioneer Award application cycle that is now under way. Applications are due October 7, 2011.

NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award program, also managed by NIGMS, is accepting applications until October 14, 2011. This program is designed for early stage investigators at U.S. institutions who have not yet obtained an NIH R01 or similar grant.

For more information and links to the requests for applications, see the Pioneer Award Web site and the New Innovator Award Web site.

As I’ve written before, one of my favorite elements of these programs is the annual symposium, scheduled this year for September 20-21 at the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel near the NIH campus. The meeting is free and doesn’t require registration, so if you’re in the area, I encourage you to join us for talks and poster sessions by Pioneer and New Innovator awardees. If you can’t make it in person, you can view the platform presentations after the meeting on the NIH Videocast site.

Forging Ahead

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Under Jeremy Berg’s leadership, NIGMS has thrived and continued to support outstanding, cutting-edge research. I hope to maintain this momentum while serving as acting NIGMS director.

Many of you know me from the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology, the part of NIGMS I’ve directed since 1988. Others know me from the NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator Award programs, which I’ve led for a number of years, or from my role in chairing NIGMS’ strategic planning processes. Some may even recall when I previously served as acting NIGMS director (from May 2002, when Marvin Cassman left, to November 2003, when Jeremy arrived).

In this time of transition, we are managing a challenging budget situation and also pursuing several major activities. One is implementing action items from the training strategic plan. I am excited to see this effort come to fruition, as it will have a significant impact on both students in our training programs and those supported by regular research grants.

In addition, we are looking forward to marking the Institute’s 50th anniversary in 2012. Planning is already under way for activities at scientific meetings and on the NIH campus. We will post more details here in the coming months.

And of course we eagerly anticipate the selection of a new NIGMS director. The search committee is a terrific group of people who know the Institute well. I have a lot of confidence that they will find us a director who will continue NIGMS’ strong tradition of excellent leadership.

Part of Jeremy’s legacy at NIGMS is the Feedback Loop. Keeping open lines of communication has always been really important to us, and I welcome your input at any time.

NIGMS Cell Repository Now Includes iPS Cell Lines

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The HGCR iPS cell lines undergo extensive characterization, including assessment of their capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. The cell shown here was directed to differentiate into a nerve cell.As we anticipated last year, the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository Link to external web site (HGCR) now offers human induced pluripotent stem cell lines that carry disease gene mutations. The first five lines to be made available were derived from individuals with Huntington’s disease, juvenile onset diabetes, severe combined immunodeficiency disease, muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy. The repository is developing more cell lines representing other diseases.

The iPS cell lines Link to external web site, along with more than 10,000 others in the repository, are comprehensively characterized to ensure their identity, stability and purity. This quality control makes the repository an excellent resource for researchers who need well-characterized, disease-specific cells.

You can order any of the repository’s cell lines via the HGCR catalog Link to external web site.

Earlier Submission Deadlines for 2011 Pioneer and New Innovator Awards

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NIH Director’s Pioneer AwardNIH has announced the 2011 competitions for the NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards. These awards support exceptionally creative scientists who propose highly innovative—and often unconventional—approaches to major challenges in biomedical or behavioral research. Both programs are part of the NIH Common Fund and are managed by NIGMS.

The Pioneer Award provides $2.5 million in direct costs over 5 years and is open to scientists at U.S. institutions at any career level. The deadline for applying is September 13, 2010.

NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

The New Innovator Award provides $1.5 million in direct costs over 5 years and is designed for early stage investigators at U.S. institutions who have not yet obtained an NIH R01 or similar grant. Applications are due by September 20, 2010.

For more information about the programs and links to the requests for applications, see the Pioneer Award Web site and the New Innovator Award Web site.

A highlight of these programs is the annual symposium. This year’s symposium will take place near the NIH campus in Bethesda on September 30 and October 1, and it will include research talks by the second graduating class of Pioneer Award recipients. If you’re in the area, consider attending the symposium. It’s free, doesn’t require advance registration and also offers the opportunity to view poster presentations by many of the Pioneers and New Innovators. If you can’t attend, the symposium will be videocast live and archived at http://videocast.nih.gov.

Video from Postdoc Workshop Now Available

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Marion Sewer, University of California, San DiegoAs you may recall from an earlier Feedback Loop message, NIGMS hosted its first workshop to help postdocs successfully transition to independent positions. We just posted videos for all the presentations.

The two-day career development event at NIH brought together 150 postdoctoral fellows from diverse backgrounds to discuss a wide range of topics, including applying and interviewing for jobs; establishing a lab and getting that first grant; and balancing research with teaching, family and other commitments. Meeting attendees also had the opportunity to ask panelists questions about their personal experiences and get other valuable career advice.

So far, we have received a lot of positive feedback from participants and presenters. If you have additional comments, please feel free to post them here or e-mail me.

Deadline Approaching for Postdoc Workshop

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Last month, Jeremy Berg announced that NIGMS is holding a two-day workshop for postdoctoral fellows who will soon transition to their first independent positions. The event will take place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, March 11-12, 2010, and the deadline for applications is just a few weeks away (November 2). While we received a strong response, we still have some space available.

As chair of the NIGMS committee organizing this special workshop, I want to emphasize what a great opportunity it will be for transitioning postdocs, especially ones from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Since NIGMS has a strong interest in encouraging a diverse scientific workforce, we are excited to host a workshop that will help a wide range of transitioning postdocs.

The workshop will provide practical advice about applying and interviewing for jobs, negotiating start-up packages, finding a mentor, establishing a lab, forming collaborations, getting tenure, balancing research with other commitments and much more. The agenda features a fabulous lineup of speakers, including many well-established academic scientists, who will share their experiences and offer tips.

Please consider applying or forwarding this information to eligible postdocs in your lab.

Now Seeking Applications for Next Year’s “Pioneers” and “New Innovators”

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NIH Director’s Pioneer AwardNIH has announced the 2010 competitions for the NIH Director’s Pioneer Awards and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards. These awards support exceptionally creative scientists who propose highly innovative—and often unconventional—approaches to major challenges in biomedical or behavioral research. Both programs are part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research and are managed by NIGMS.

The Pioneer Award provides $2.5 million in direct costs over five years and is open to scientists at U.S. institutions at any career level. The deadline for applying is October 20, 2009.

NIH Director’s New Innovator AwardThe New Innovator Award provides $1.5 million in direct costs over five years and is designed for early stage investigators at U.S. institutions who have not yet obtained an NIH R01 or similar grant. Applications are due by October 27, 2009.

For more information about the programs and links to the requests for applications, see the Pioneer Award Web site and the New Innovator Award Web site.

One of the features of these programs that I find most exciting is the annual symposium. This year’s symposium will take place on the NIH campus in Bethesda on September 24 and 25 and will include research talks by the first graduating class of Pioneer Award recipients and by the class of 2008. The 2009 award recipients will also be announced. The symposium will be videocast live and archived at http://videocast.nih.gov.