I’m pleased to announce the debut of Pathways , a collaboration between NIGMS and Scholastic, Inc., that provides a collection of free educational resources about basic biomedical science and research careers.Continue reading
As we work on issuing a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the established investigator (EI) MIRA program, we thought it would be useful to address a few common questions we’ve been hearing. The new FOA will allow applications from NIGMS grantees who have one or more single-Principal Investigator (PI) R01-equivalent awards, just as the current FOA does. In addition, the new FOA (to be published by Fall 2019) will allow renewal applications from PIs who already have MIRA grants.Continue reading →
I’d like to draw your attention to a very important statement issued yesterday outlining actions NIH is taking to address the issue of sexual harassment in science. The full statement is also available below. For additional information, please visit NIH’s webpage: Anti-Sexual Harassment: for NIH Awardee Organizations and Those Who Work There.Continue reading →
I’m very pleased to announce that two long-time NIGMS grantees are among today’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry . They include:
- Frances H. Arnold, Ph.D., of the California Institute of Technology, “for the directed evolution of enzymes”
- George P. Smith, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri, Columbia, who shares the prize with Sir Gregory P. Winter of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K., “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies”
Last week, NIH Director Francis S. Collins issued a statement about the pervasive problem of sexual harassment in science and reaffirmed NIH’s commitment to address it. He noted that NIH is working to bolster its policies and practices to foster a culture of respect wherever NIH research activities are conducted, and to ensure that sexual harassment is not tolerated or ignored.
NIH has launched a new website on anti-sexual harassment activities. I encourage you to explore the site and become familiar with NIH’s policies, practices, and initiatives.
Consistent with NIGMS’ strong commitment to research training, the Institute recently announced that applications for our predoctoral T32 training programs must include in their required institutional support letters information about the institution’s policies and procedures to prevent discriminatory harassment and respond appropriately to allegations or findings of discriminatory harassment. Moving forward, NIGMS will require this information in institutional support letters for applications for all of our training programs.
I’m pleased to congratulate six members of the NIGMS community who are among the recipients of the 2018 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring . They include:
- Ann L. Chester, Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) principal investigator, West Virginia University
- John A. Pollock, SEPA principal investigator, Duquesne University
- Virginia L. Shepherd, SEPA principal investigator, Vanderbilt University
- Elba E. Serrano, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) principal investigator and IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence mentor, New Mexico State University
- Maria da Graça H. Vicente, Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) principal investigator, Louisiana State University
- John K. Haynes, Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) co-investigator, Morehouse College
The award recognizes outstanding mentors whose efforts encourage the next generation of innovators and help to develop a science and engineering workforce that reflects the diverse talent of our nation, key goals of a number of programs here at NIGMS.
Awardees received a Presidential certificate and a $10,000 grant to continue their mentoring activities at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., last month. Please join me in congratulating all winners of this prestigious honor.
I’m pleased to announce that Ming Lei will join NIGMS later this month as the new director of our Division for Research Capacity Building. Ming is a molecular geneticist with extensive experience overseeing fellowship, career development, and training and education grant programs.Ming is currently deputy director of the Center for Cancer Training and chief of the Cancer Training Branch at the National Cancer Institute, which he joined in 2008 as a program director. His experience before that includes leading the Genes and Genome Cluster in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the National Science Foundation, serving as an associate professor of microbiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and working as a research scientist in the Division of Biotechnology at the Monsanto Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri.
Ming’s expertise in managing far-reaching and complex programs, and his ability to effectively engage with scientists and other stakeholders, make him an ideal choice for this key position and a valuable addition to our senior leadership team.
Please join me in welcoming him to NIGMS.
For more about Ming, see our news announcement.
The videocast from our April 17 Early-Career Investigator Lecture with Jeramiah Smith is now available. Jeramiah, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, gives a fascinating talk about his genomic research with sea lampreys. He then offers advice for students interested in biomedical research careers. I encourage you to take a look and share the video with students and postdocs in your labs and departments.
We launched this annual lecture series three years ago both to highlight the achievements of our early-career grantees, and to encourage undergraduates and other students to pursue careers in biomedical research. This year, a group of nearly 30 students from the ASCEND program at Morgan State University attended in person (and asked some outstanding questions!).
NIGMS is committed to ensuring that taxpayers get the best possible returns on their investments in fundamental biomedical research [PDF 702KB]. As part of this commitment to stewardship [PDF 7.89MB], we regularly monitor trends in our funding portfolio.
We recognize the value of a diversified investment portfolio and approach our research investments in a similar fashion. Sustaining a broad and diverse portfolio of talented investigators is a central goal of the Institute, as a wide variety of research questions can be studied by an investigator pool that comprises many different backgrounds, fields, and skills. To monitor this, we track the “cumulative investigator rate,” which indicates the proportion of unique investigators actively seeking funding who had an NIGMS grant in a given Fiscal Year (FY). As shown in Figure 1, the number of investigators seeking support consistently increased between FY 2006 and 2014, but the number of NIGMS-funded investigators remained relatively unchanged over that same period. As a result, the cumulative investigator rate steadily decreased. Since FY 2014, the cumulative investigator rate has steadily increased, as the number of applicants seeking support has stabilized and the number of investigators receiving support has grown by 14%. Currently, 37.4% of investigators seeking R01/R35 funding from NIGMS received support in FY 2017.
UPDATE: The NIGMS reorganization became official in January 2018. Please see our Overview for more information.
I’d like to make you aware of a proposed reorganization of the Institute’s scientific divisions that we are considering.
Currently, NIGMS has four scientific divisions: Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology (BBCB); Cell Biology and Biophysics (CBB); Genetics and Developmental Biology (GDB); and Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry (PPBC). We would like to shift to a structure in which there are only three scientific divisions: Biophysics, Biomedical Technology, and Computational Biosciences (BBCB); Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (GMCDB); and Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry.
In broad strokes, the current CBB cell biology branch and most of the grants it manages would move to the new Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology division, and the CBB biophysics branch would move to the new Biophysics, Biomedical Technology, and Computational Biosciences division. A few grant portfolios from CBB would be transferred to the existing Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry.
This proposed reorganization does not reflect any change in scientific emphasis or interests by the Institute. Rather, it is an attempt to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our support for fundamental biomedical research, consistent with two goals outlined in our strategic plan [PDF, 702KB]: enhance the effectiveness of our support for fundamental biomedical research and improve the efficiency of our internal operations.
The proposed restructuring also includes establishing the Center for Research Capacity Building as a full division, consistent with its unique place in the Institute. In addition, based on a recommendation from the Steering Committee of the Office of Emergency Care Research (OECR), we plan to transfer the office to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Because of NINDS’ strong expertise in and support for clinical research related to emergency medicine, it is extremely well-suited to promoting the mission of OECR.
You might wonder what the proposed reorganization will mean for your current or future funding. Our commitment to funding fundamental biomedical research and research capacity building programs remains the same, so the amount of money allocated to these areas will not change as a result of the proposed reorganization. We also expect that most grantees will continue working with their current program directors and grants management specialists.
Soliciting input from the community is among the steps that need to occur before any changes can be implemented. We invite you to share your thoughts on these plans by commenting here or by email. Input will be received through December 4, 2017.