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Freedom of Information Act Office

IC Directors' Mini-Retreat Highlights

May 29, 2012

To: IC Directors
Subject: IC Directors' Meeting Highlights — May 10, 2012

Announcements: Dr. Collins provided brief updates on the new Drug Repurposing Program which was announced at the National Press Club on May 3, and the new HBO documentary series entitled the Weight of the Nation, which premiers on May 14. He also noted that the ACD meeting will be on June 14-15 and will include reports from three working groups.

Enhancing Communications: Story Landis and John Burklow

Dr. Landis introduced the topic of enhancing communications by noting that a very small percentage of Americans actually know what NIH is. This is in contrast to disease and advocacy groups, which know their particular ICs and often NIH very well. She highlighted a need to balance NIH recognition with IC recognition to improve communication with the public.

Mr. Burklow underscored the need for a commitment from all ICs in order for a unified communications effort to be successful. He highlighted that the majority of the public does not understand the role of public health research in their lives, much less the connection to NIH. He asserted that ICs are the toughest competition for NIH recognition, noting the multitude of IC logos that make it very challenging for the public to understand the link to NIH. He described the desired goal of “mutuality” when communicating to the public (i.e., putting the NIH front and foremost, while also maintaining IC connections to communities) and identified several key strategies and tools for action. IC Directors were supportive of this goal.

Entrepreneurship: Susan Shurin and Josie Briggs

Dr. Shurin posed the question of how NIH investments can be structured to enhance the culture, training, and development of an entrepreneurial workforce. She highlighted particular challenges in this area, including risk management and conflicts of interest. She noted many reasons that discoveries do not succeed in getting commercialized, and several potential solutions that are not generally part of the NIH skill set; this underscores the need to develop good partnerships outside of NIH. Dr. Shurin described several ways that NIH currently supports entrepreneurship for translation research, but reemphasized the need for culture change.

Dr. Briggs noted that many of the issues discussed by Dr. Shurin were the driving force behind the creation of NCATS and the restructuring of the CTSAs, and yet the culture of entrepreneurship has not seemed to flourish at academic medical centers. She reiterated several questions for discussion regarding how to optimize NIH investments, how to attract funding an expertise without compromising NIH, how to manage risk and deal with conflicts of interest, and how to encourage and reward culture change.

Peer Review: Richard Nakamura and Jim Anderson

Dr. Nakamura described several possible intervention points to improve peer review outcomes. He identified three near-term actions to enhance peer review outcomes: improve the referral process, optimize coverage of study sections, and design and evaluate measures of review quality.  He noted specific plans to address the assignment of applications and study section coverage over the next year. As a longer term goal, Dr. Nakamura described additional efforts towards the continuous improvement of peer review, including the development of a research unit, controlled experiments, comparative analysis of review platforms, and quantitative models to better understand the quality of ranking by study sections.

Dr. Anderson provided examples from DPCPSI on initial efforts to use analytical approaches to improve grant review. He shared data on the use of similarity algorithms to characterize study sections, and integrated bibliometric/co-author analyses to assess the impact of networks on citation rates. Dr. Nakamura provided additional examples from CSR, including a map of science coverage. He noted the benefits and constraints of using these approaches, and emphasized the need for a new research unit to address the science of peer review.

This page last reviewed on May 29, 2012

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