Author: Mike Rogers

Headshot of Mike Rogers.

Until his retirement in May 2015, Mike was a division director with his hands in several research and training pots: chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology, pharmacology, anesthesiology and the physiological response to trauma and burns. He also had a major interest in fostering both drug discovery and development and cooperation between NIH and industry.

Posts by Mike Rogers

Funding Opportunity to Create Training Modules to Enhance Data Reproducibility


In February, we asked for input on training activities relevant to enhancing data reproducibility, which has become a very serious issue for both basic and clinical research. The responses revealed that there is substantial variation in the training occurring at institutions. One reason is that “best practices” training in skills that influence data reproducibility appears to be largely passed down from generation to generation of scientists working in the laboratory.

To increase the likelihood that researchers generate reproducible, unbiased and properly validated results, NIGMS and nine additional NIH components have issued a funding opportunity announcement to develop, pilot and disseminate training modules to enhance data reproducibility. Appropriate areas for the modules include experimental design, laboratory practices, analysis and reporting of results, and/or the influence of cultural factors such as confirmation bias in hypothesis testing or the scientific rewards system. The modules should be creative, engaging, readily accessible online at no cost and easily incorporated into research training programs for the intended audience, which includes graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and beginning faculty.

The application deadline is November 20, 2014, with letters of intent due by October 20, 2014. Applicants may request up to $150,000 in total costs to cover the entire award period. For more details, read the FAQs.

Give Input on Training Activities Relevant to Data Reproducibility


Data reproducibility is getting a lot of attention in the scientific community, and NIH is among those seeking to address the issue Link to external web site. At NIGMS, one area we’re focusing on is the needs and opportunities for training in areas relevant to improving data reproducibility in biomedical research. We just issued a request for information to gather input on activities that already exist or are planned as well as on crucial needs that an NIGMS program should address.

I strongly encourage you and your colleagues to submit comments by the February 28 deadline (no longer available). The information will assist us in shaping a program of small grants to support the design and development of exportable training modules tailored for graduate students, postdoctoral students and beginning investigators.

UPDATE: NIGMS and additional NIH components have issued the Training Modules to Enhance Data Reproducibility (R25) funding opportunity announcement. The application deadline is November 20.

‘OXIDE-izing’ Diversity in Chemistry—and Beyond


We are constantly seeking new ways to foster the development of a diverse and inclusive biomedical research workforce. One notable example is our partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to support a series of workshops on increasing diversity in chemistry departments.

The workshops focused on disability equity , racial and ethnic equity  and gender equity . The organizing committees and workshop participants, mostly chemistry department chairs, felt that progress was made during each workshop. However, the insights and good intentions engendered by such meetings can have an all too high vapor pressure and gains can be lost. Enter OXIDE.

OXIDE, which stands for the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity , is a 5-year grant effort co-funded by NIGMS, NSF and DOE to address multiple areas of diversity, including gender, race-ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. With the desire to keep the momentum gained from the previous workshops, OXIDE seeks to maintain a connection among the chairs of chemistry departments and partner with social scientists to take advantage of their findings.

OXIDE’s recurring National Diversity Equity Workshops facilitate discussion among these groups on the latest diversity research and its implications for chemistry departments. The next workshop , which is open primarily to chairs or thought leaders of the leading research-active chemistry departments, will be held April 15-16, 2013, in Arlington, Virginia. Presentation slides will be archived on the Oxide Web site.

OXIDE also partners with the American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News to conduct and publish annual faculty demographic assessments  of more than 75 research-active chemistry departments, allowing for longitudinal examination of data trends.

Perhaps most importantly, OXIDE embodies the commitment of the chemistry community, NIGMS and other federal agencies to advancing diversity and inclusion. Its approaches—and findings—might be useful to other scientific communities.

Wanted: Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology Division Director


Search Committee Members:

Francine Berman, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Valerie Florance, National Library of Medicine

Daniel Gallahan, National Cancer Institute

Christine Kelley, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

David Landsman, National Center for Biotechnology Information

Michael Rogers, NIGMS, Chair

Earlier this year, NIGMS formed the Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology (BBCB) to administer programs that were part of the former NIGMS Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and the National Center for Research Resources. The division also manages the NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative (BISTI), an effort to stimulate and coordinate the use of computer science and technology to address problems in biology and medicine. Because of its role at NIH, BBCB serves as a focal point for collaborative efforts with other federal agencies that are developing related programs and policies.

To lead BBCB and BISTI, we’re looking for an individual with exceptional strategic vision and a distinguished record of research and management experience in computation/informatics, biomedical technology and biomedical research. NIGMS Acting Director Judith Greenberg has noted that the BBCB Director will have an extraordinary opportunity to shape this still relatively new division, forge key alliances with other NIH components and government agencies, and interact directly with the NIH Director to help establish guidelines and programs in biocomputing and technology.

For details about the job qualifications, how to apply and other information, see the vacancy announcement. Applications will be reviewed starting November 26, 2012, and will be accepted until the position is filled.

Now is a particularly exciting time for this division at NIH, since biomedical progress is critically dependent on the development of a more robust computing infrastructure and on the creation of new biomedical technologies. As chair of the search committee for the division’s director, I ask for your help in identifying candidates for this important position and in sharing this information with others who might be interested.

Emergence of Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology: A White Paper


Our interest in quantitative and systems pharmacology (QSP) began in 2007 as a question about why we were seeing so little integration between two fields we fund: systems biology and pharmacology. We recognized that connecting them could improve our understanding of drug action and speed drug discovery and development while also increasing our scientific understanding of biology.

To examine the potential of quantitative, systems approaches to pharmacology research, we sponsored two workshops in this area, one in 2008 and the other in 2010. After the second meeting, a committee of external scientists who were also workshop participants began drafting a white paper to assess the state of the science and enumerate the opportunities, needs and challenges for QSP as an emerging discipline.

The committee recently issued the white paper.

The paper makes the case that this post-genomic era is the right time to develop and employ quantitative, systems approaches to understand drug action more predictively, and that the need and excitement for doing so is building. Already we are starting to see evidence of this field emerging—the University of California, San Francisco, has started a Center for Quantitative Pharmacology Link to external web site, and Harvard Medical School just announced an Initiative in Systems Pharmacology. Also, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences annual meeting Link to external web site this month will include a session called, “Achieving the Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology Vision.”

The overall recommendation of the workshop committee is for pharmacology to move beyond characterizing drug/target interactions to a holistic quantitative understanding of drug action across many levels—from drug-receptor interactions to drug response in humans. As stated in the paper, this will require the participation of scientists from academia and industry who work in diverse areas, including traditional pharmacology, clinical pharmacology, pharmacodynamics/pharmacokinetic modeling, systems biology, chemistry, bioinformatics, multiscale modeling and computer science. Training new and established investigators also will be a critical element.

We encourage you to read the paper and let us know what you think about its recommendations for research and training in QSP.

Chemistry at NIGMS


International Year of Chemistry 2011The launch of the International Year of Chemistry 2011 is a good opportunity to reflect on the NIGMS role in supporting research in this central field of science. NIGMS is the leading institute at NIH in funding chemical research, supporting a range of studies focusing on such areas as the development of synthetic methodologies for new drug discovery and synthesis; the role of metals in biological systems; and the discovery of new analytical techniques for the detection, identification and quantification of human metabolites. In fact, just about every branch of chemistry has a connection to the study of human health.

We’re proud that our support has led to many breakthroughs and significant honors, including 36 Nobel Prizes in chemistry.

We also play a major role in training in chemistry through both research grant support and training awards. In 1992, we initiated the Chemistry-Biology Interface institutional predoctoral training grant program, which today supports chemistry students who wish to be cross-trained in biology and biologists who wish to be cross-trained in chemistry in 23 institutions across the country. And you can frequently find NIGMS-supported postdocs in the labs of leading chemists.

We foster effective mentoring in chemistry in a variety of ways. One example is the mentoring workshops we’ve sponsored since 2005 for new faculty in organic and bio-organic chemistry, who meet once or twice each year.

Representatives from the federal agencies that support chemical research, including NIH, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, meet annually to compare notes on our different programs and discuss cross-cutting issues. These exchanges can lead to collaborations, such as the workshops for chemistry department chairs that NIGMS, DOE and NSF have co-sponsored for several years now to help increase diversity in the ranks of chemistry faculty. You can read reports at and (Links no longer available). And we will participate with NSF and DOE in a “FedFunders Town Hall Meeting” at the American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting Link to external website in Anaheim on Monday, March 28, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This event is a good forum for meeting and talking with staff from the three agencies.

The staff at NIGMS who handle chemistry research portfolios are always ready to talk with grantees, applicants and potential applicants about chemistry and support for chemistry projects, and we can frequently be spotted at chemistry-related scientific meetings. Miles Fabian and I will be at the Anaheim ACS meeting and John Schwab plans to attend the ACS fall meeting in Denver. We hope to see some of you there.

Nominate Your Outstanding Graduate Students to Meet Nobel Laureates


Graduate Student Awards for the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students in Lindau, GermanyIt’s the 1st of October, and there’s a Nobel buzz in the air. We’re eagerly awaiting next week’s prize announcements and hoping to see more of our grantees added to the list.

But we’re also feeling the Nobel excitement in another way: the opening of the nomination process for your graduate students to attend the next Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Nominations are due from your universities on November 1.

Through this extraordinary opportunity, the most exceptional young researchers go to Lindau, Germany, to engage with Nobel Laureates and meet their peers from around the globe. The upcoming meeting takes place June 26-July 1, 2011, and will feature Nobel prizewinners from physiology or medicine.

A student from last year’s meeting said, “Lindau is much more than a meeting. It is an experience that will change how you look at science and inspire your career.” Other students have told us that it’s “amazing” and “life-changing,” giving them extensive opportunities to network and have focused discussions with the Nobelists. John Schwab and Ravi Basavappa, NIGMS program directors who accompanied the students in past years, came back from the meeting equally charged up.

You can get a sense of what the excitement is all about by viewing a video about the meeting Link to external web site.

If you would like to nominate one of your students, visit Link to external web site for details, instructions and forms. Your universities must submit the applications via this Web site by the November 1 deadline.

Please note that your university president or designee can submit only two candidates to be considered for NIH support. Eligible students can be supported by any NIH institute or center, as long as it funds the research the student is involved in or supports the student through a training award. Universities may also submit up to six additional nominations (two to each of the three other sponsors—DOE, ORAU and Mars, Inc.).

The application process has three phases. First, candidates are selected by their universities for consideration by NIH. Second, NIH selects approximately 40 student nominations, which represents more than half of the U.S. delegation. The last phase is conducted by the Lindau Meeting. Selection is a highly competitive process, and we’re counting on you to identify the best candidates to represent U.S. science next year!

A Meeting of Scientific Minds: Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology


Logo for Quantitative and Systems PharmacologyRegistration is now open for our second Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology Workshop, which will be held September 9-10 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. The meeting is intended primarily for pharmacologists, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modelers, systems biologists and others working in fields relevant to this emerging discipline.

I first announced plans for the workshop on the Feedback Loop, and your comments both to the post and to the organizing committee helped us develop the agenda. This year’s scientific talks, researcher perspectives, panel discussions and poster presentations will focus on key questions related to the integration of pharmacology and systems biology and how it can aid our understanding of drug actions and drug discovery. Specific questions range from how we articulate a vision for systems pharmacology to what needs to happen to achieve that vision.

The meeting’s co-chairs, Peter Sorger of Harvard Medical School and Sandra Allerheiligen of Merck, Inc., along with the organizing committee have put together an exciting group of confirmed speakers who represent academia, industry and the many disciplines relevant to systems pharmacology. Please note that we are still adding specific talk titles and soliciting poster presentations.

Registration is free, but slots are limited—don’t postpone registering if you want to attend!

A New Frontier for Therapeutics: Integrating Pharmacology and Systems Biology


Over the years, we have learned that drugs act in very complex ways and cause a combination of wanted and unwanted effects, many—if not most—of which are still poorly understood. Attaining a deeper knowledge of how drugs act in the body and their connections to therapeutic and toxicological outcomes now requires a systems-level approach.

At this time, NIGMS has a substantial grant investment in pharmacology and in systems biology, but we have not seen a great deal of activity integrating pharmacology with systems biology to benefit drug discovery and the understanding of drug action.

Logo for Quantitative and Systems PharmacologyWith this in mind, NIGMS hosted the first Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology Workshop last September. We brought together researchers from systems biology, pharmacology and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling to figure out how these fields can come together to advance drug design and discovery. The group addressed the topic from the standpoint of both horizontal integration (various networks in various cell systems) and vertical integration (connections between pathways at different levels of organization, tissues, organs, etc.). You can read the workshop report for a summary of the discussions.

An important outcome from the meeting was the feedback we got from participants about how far apart their disciplines presently are yet how much they have in common. The participants encouraged us to create more opportunities for them to interact and help bridge their disciplines.

To help promote and facilitate these interactions, we are now planning our second Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology meeting for fall 2010. We want your input to help shape the program. What do you think are the cutting-edge topics? What are the biggest challenges? What advances are needed to develop a systems approach to therapeutics?

You can comment here, or send an e-mail to me or any of the other meeting organizers. They include Sarah Dunsmore, Richard Okita and Peter Lyster from NIGMS and Grace Peng from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.