On October 19, 2011, APS President Joey Granger, President-elect Sue Barman, Past President Peter Wagner, and Science Policy Chair John Chatham met with officials at the NIH to discuss several issues of concern to APS members.
The first meeting was with National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Acting Director Susan Shurin, Acting Deputy Director Carl Roth and several division directors. Discussion centered on the important role that basic scientists in general and physiologists in particular play in advancing translational research. Other topics addressed included training and workforce issues and the peer review process, particularly NHLBI’s use of stratified paylines for A0, A1, and A2 applications.
At the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) the APS leadership met with DPCPSI Director James Anderson and Deputy Director of the Office of Strategic Coordination Elizabeth Wilder. Dr. Anderson outlined the role that DPCPSI plays in identifying emerging scientific opportunities, administering the Common Fund and developing resources for portfolio analysis and program evaluation. He also highlighted funding opportunities available through the Common Fund, including the NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards, New Innovator Awards, Pioneer Awards and Transformative Research Awards.
At the Center for Scientific Review, the APS leadership met with Acting Director Richard Nakamura, as well as Director of the Division of Translational and Clinical Sciences Joy Gibson and Director of the Division of Physiology and Pathological Sciences Sy Gaarte. Discussion touched on the importance of recruiting reviewers from underrepresented minority groups, the consequences of eliminating the A2 application, and the challenges presented by the new numerical scoring system, which does not always accurately reflect comments offered by reviewers.
At the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), the APS leadership met with Acting Director Judith Greenberg. Dr. Greenberg highlighted the recent NIGMS Strategic Plan for training, which includes recommendations for increasing diversity in the biomedical research workforce and preparing students for careers outside of academic bench science. Discussion also touched on the NIGMS policy for carefully reviewing applications from grantees with more than $750, 000 in research support.
Drs. Granger, Barman, Wagner, and Chatham invited all of the NIH officials to submit articles on relevant topics of interest for publication in The Physiologist. In additional, all four directors have been invited to participate in a symposium at EB 2012 that will feature some of the issues discussed at the meetings.