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NIH Releases Five-Year Rehabilitation Research Plan

After two years of planning and soliciting public input, the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the NIH Research Plan on Rehabilitation. The government-wide plan, coordinated by NCMRR, addresses the need for rehabilitation research; NIH’s investment in rehabilitation research; current medical rehabilitation research activities at NIH; opportunities, needs, and priorities; and NIH’s coordination with other federal agencies. Seventeen NIH institutes and centers support rehabilitation research, and the plan “calls for the continuation of programs to understand the basic biological, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms that underlie disability.” Additionally, the new plan recognizes the emerging approach of precision medicine for disease treatment, prevention, and health disparities as an area for consideration.

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 1), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Diana Bianchi Named director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

On August 25, NatioBianchinal Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced the selection of Diana Bianchi as director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). She is expected to begin her NIH tenure on October 31, 2016. Bianchi joins the NIH from the Floating Hospital for Children and Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and is the fou
nding director of the Mother Infant Research Institute and vice chair for pediatric research. A medical geneticist with special expertise in reproductive genetics, Bianchi’s research focuses on prenatal genomics. Read more about Bianchi and NICHD here.

Collins also recognized Catherine Spong who served as the NICHD’s acting director for the past year.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 6), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

National Children’s Study Archive Available to Investigators

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development issued a Notice (NOT-HD-16-005) to alert investigators of the availability of the National Children’s Study (NCS) Vanguard Data and Sample Archive and Access System (NCS Archive). The NCS Vanguard served as a pilot for “a planned cohort study of environmental influences on child health and development.” The Vanguard pilot enrolled more than 14,000 participants in more than 5,000 families in 40 locations and followed them until 2014. It includes a collection of more than “14 million records and nearly 19,000 biological and 5,500 primary samples from which a sample repository of over 250,000 items was created.” That information is now available through the NCS Archive for “approved research projects by qualified investigators.” The initial release consists of study data from 2009 -2010. Additional data and sample availability is expected. For more information, see the NCS webpage.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 8), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Senior Leadership Changes Occurring at NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been experiencing a turnover in the leadership over the past month as several long-term directors have decided to retire and/or move on to new endeavors.

guttmacher In August, Alan Guttmacher, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), announced his plans to retire at the end of September. The Friends of NICHD paid tribute to Guttmacher on September 15 with a farewell breakfast in recognition of his dedication and leadership in advancing science and improving human health and well-being. COSSA serves on the Friends Executive Committee.

As director of one of the few NIH institutes with a “friends” group, Guttmacher always made a point of expressing his appreciation for the Friends’ ability to collectively advocate on behalf of the Institute despite the breadth of its mission and diverse research portfolio.

Speaking on behalf of the Friends and the social and behavioral science research community in particular, Howard Kurtzman, Acting Executive Director for Science at the American Psychological Association, expressed the community’s appreciation for Guttmacher’s service during his tenure at NIH, which has included the release of NICHD’s Scientific Vision statement (See Update, December 10, 2012). He also noted that many in the social and behavioral science community were “very pleased that this Scientific Vision maintained NICHD’s broad approach to human development, covering topics from pregnancy and reproduction, to neural plasticity and rehabilitation, to population dynamics.”

Guttmacher, a pediatrician and geneticist, also served as NIH director Francis Collins’ deputy director at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and its Acting Director when Collins became NIH’s director. In 2010, Collins appointed him director of NICHD.

Recently appointed NICHD deputy director and former NICHD scientific director Catherine Spong has been appointed acting director of the Institute. A national search for a new director is underway.

inselAlso on September 15, Collins announced that National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director Thomas Insel would be stepping down on November 1, 2015. Insel will be joining the Google Life Sciences (GLS) team at Alphabet (formerly Google) to lead a new effort that will focus on mental health. GLS’ mission is “to create technology for earlier detection, better prevention, and more effective management of serious health conditions.” Insel’s new role will include “exploring this approach for a wide spectrum of issues in mental health.”

NIMH Acting Deputy Director Bruce Cuthbert will serve as Acting Director. Cuthbert, the director of Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) unit, has held a number of leadership positions at NIMH.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 22), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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