Freedom of Information Act Office
IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
January 23, 2002
|From:||Director, Executive Secretariat|
|Subject:||IC Directors Meeting Highlights—January 3, 2002|
Dr. Kirschstein welcomed Dr. Kington in his new role as Acting Director, NIAAA, and introduced Mr. John Jarman as the new OD Executive Officer.
I. NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRP)
Dr. Lenfant distributed copies of his overheads. He reviewed the LRP requirements, one of which is to perform two years of research service. Since applicants must have an eligible NIH grant or award to apply for these LRPs this fiscal year, Dr. Lenfant raised the situation in which an applicant has less than two years of NIH grant support at the time of his potential LRP contract award. The ensuing discussion centered around the responsibilities of the applicant's institution, the NIH, and the applicant and who is responsible for ensuring that a two-year research commitment is honored. It was also clarified that applicants need not be PIs; they can be on eligible training grants. This requirement for NIH support is only for those who apply this year. In subsequent years there is no such requirement. There was widespread support for the need to keep the eligibility requirements as simple as possible. Dr. Tabak expressed concerns about creating a separate review track for R01s or other grants that have LRP recipients who need an additional year of support. Dr. Ehrenfeld said not all institutions can commit to two years of support. Dr. Hodes was concerned that this requirement for continuing support would make LRP recipients unattractive to their institutions. Dr. Alexander noted that in NICHD's experience with LRP, this has not been a problem; the recipients are top notch people whom their institutions want to retain. There was also some support for a proposal to state up front that NIH will supplement whatever grant the LRP recipient is on for a second year. Mr. Horowitz pointed out that the OMB wants NIH to be as flexible as possible without giving up accountability or oversight. The language OMB approved can't be changed without going back to them for re-clearance. The group concurred with Dr. Kirschstein's suggestion to leave in the eligibility language, "As required by statute, LRP recipients must agree to perform two years of research service to be awarded an LRP contract," and to eliminate the last two sub-bullets in that section.
Dr. Lenfant stressed that LRP application reviews are not scientific reviews. Dr. Hanson suggested rewording the announcement to clarify that we are reviewing the scientific potential of the candidates. Dr. Lenfant also feels strongly that the entire process should be as open as possible and therefore that the national advisory councils should participate in the reviews in some way, although there is no absolute requirement for them to do so. After some discussion, the group concluded that the language (distributed with the meeting agenda) referring to "Council review"should be changed to "presented to Council" and that the quotation marks should be removed from around the word openness.
Dr. Nakamura said that NIMH would like to be able to state in advance the research areas it wants to emphasize. He asked to change the language from "will not be announced" to "need not be announced." Mr. Horowitz said this question has been discussed with the OMB and, while OMB is not in favor of the approach, it is legally permissible and is a policy decision for Dr. Kirschstein to make.
Dr. Alexander requested a change under the "Selection of Awardees" section. The group agreed to change the language regarding NIH-wide LRPs awarded for pediatric research from requiring 10 to 20 percent to requiring 15 to 20 percent. Dr. Alexander also agreed to let IC Directors know how many pediatric LRPs NICHD intends to fund. NIDDK and NIMH also plan to emphasize pediatric research.
The group then discussed the implementation schedule. The dates for the two NCMHD LRPs have not yet been determined. OLRS must receive all other applications by February 28. The IC Directors want to publicize this as soon as possible, especially given the tight deadline for applications. Mr. Horowitz will modify the language as agreed to by the IC Directors and notify them as soon as the Web site is live. (NOTE: The Web site is www.lrp.nih.gov and was made available for applications as of January 7.) Mr. Horowitz clarified that the application process is the same for all five programs, although NIH support for the two NCMHD programs is not required, and the Web site spells this out. Dr. Kirschstein said the announcement must go in the NIH Guide as well as the Federal Register. Dr. Gallin raised the issue of how the LRPs will be evaluated. Mr. Horowitz will receive quarterly service confirmation reports from each LRP participant's mentor/PI, and an exit interview questionnaire (to be developed) will request information on the researcher's future plans. The group emphasized the importance of this being uniform among all the loan repayment programs and among all ICs.
The group also took up the question of whether grant applications that cannot be funded in the first year can be considered again next year. There was general agreement that rolling over applications should not be allowed.
The meeting continued as principals only.
Karen Pelham O'Steen
cc: OD Staff