Blog Archives

NIH Requests Information on ECHO-wide Cohort Data Collection Protocol

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking input into the development of the cohort data collection protocol for the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program. ECHO was formed late last year to “investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development—from conception through early childhood–influences the health of children and adolescents.” ECHO represents the follow-on activity to the now-discontinued National Children’s Study.

The Request for Information seeks comments on a number of aspects of the ECHO-wide cohort, which will entail data collection from 84 existing cohorts. Input is sought on the data elements, types of biospecimens, and innovative data collection methodology associated with the cohort.

The deadline for comments has been extended to September 13.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Senate Subcommittee Discusses FY 2018 NIH Budget, Pledges Support

On June 22, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget request for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Appearing before the committee were NIH Director Francis Collins and six institute and center directors, including Douglas Lowy of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Gary Gibbons of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Richard Hodes of the National Institute of Aging (NIA), Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Joshua Gordon of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

As previously reported, the Trump Administration’s budget request for NIH seeks a cut of $7 billion or about 22 percent from current levels. The proposed reduction came at the same time Congress was putting the finishing touches on its $2 billion increase for the agency in FY 2017. NIH funding has long been one of the rare instances of unified, bipartisan support in Congress. In fact, at the outset of the hearing, LHHS Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) criticized the President’s request, stating that he “fundamentally disagree[s] with the proposed reduction.” While over the last two years Congress has worked to increase the NIH budget by more than 13 percent, the Administration offers a budget that would result in the loss of 90,000 jobs and $15.3 billion in economic activity, stated the chairman. Subcommittee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) added that the proposed cut would represent the lowest funding level for the agency since 2002. Other Subcommittee members expressed their objection to the request and pledged their support for increased NIH funding again in FY 2018. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 27), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Senate Testimony Calls for Funding for NIH, AHRQ, CDC, Education Programs

On June 2, COSSA submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The testimony calls for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and International Education and Foreign Language Programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays).

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIH Suspends Recently-Announced Grant Support Index Policy, Launches “Next Generation Researchers Initiative”

On June 8, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced that based on feedback from the scientific community in response to the May 2 proposed policy change to use a Grant Support Index (GSI) as a means to “optimize stewardship of tax payers’ dollars,” NIH has decided to take “a more focused approach to increase the number of NIH-funded early-staged an mid-care investigators (ESI).” Instead of the GSI, Collins announced the agency will implement a “Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI).” The issue was discussed at the June 8 NIH Advisory Committee to Director (ACD) meeting following a presentation by NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak.

According to the NIH Director, NGRI will:

  • Make “substantial funds from NIH’s base budget” available to support “additional meritorious” ESI and mid-career investigators who are defined as individuals with less than ten years as a principal investigator and “are about to lose all NIH funding or are seeking a second award for highly meritorious research.” Beginning this year, total funding will be $210 million (the amount needed to fund these additional investigators in the first year) and gradually increase to approximately $1.1 billion per year, depending on available resources.
  • Track the impact of the 27 NIH institutes and centers funding decisions for early- and mid-career investigators “with fundable scores to ensure this new strategy is effectively implemented in all areas of research.”
  • Place greater emphasis on special awards with the aim of supporting early-career investigators “with applications that score in the top 25th percentile,” including such awards as: the NIH Common Fund New Innovator Awards, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ (NIGMS) Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA), the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases’ (NIAMS) Supplements to Advance Research (STAR) from Projects to Programs, and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) award.
  • “Encourage multiple approaches to develop and test metrics that can be used to assess the impact of NIH grant support on scientific progress.” In the short term, according to Tabak, the agency needs “validated metrics for output (productivity)” and metrics for grant support that are based on commitment and not on dollars. A working group of the ACD will review analyses and will be discussed at future ACD meetings.

NIH launched a new web page and will continue to receive feedback via the Open Mike blog or via email to A recording of the discussion can be viewed via videocast on NIH’s website.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Collins to Stay on at NIH; Two Other Leadership Positions Announced

On June 6, the President announced that National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins will stay on as NIH director. As previously reported, Collins was asked to remain in the position in January by the new administration. Collins continues to enjoy support of the Republican leadership of committees with jurisdiction over the NIH. He was officially appointed to the post despite a May 22 letter from 41 conservative House members urging the President to appoint someone whose views are more aligned the Administration’s “pro-life direction,” citing embryonic stem cell research and human cloning as examples. In addition, NIH recently announced the appointments of Norman E. Sharpless as the next director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Christine Hunter as Deputy Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR).

On June 12, Collins announced the appointment of Dr. Norman E.  Sharpless as the next NCI director. Dr. Sharpless is currently serving as the director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) Lineberger (NCI-designated) Comprehensive Cancer Center and as the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research. Sharpless earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from UNC-CH and completed his medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care.

OBSSR Director William Riley also recently announced the appointment of Christine Hunter as Deputy Director. She will begin her tenure August 7. Hunter is currently the Director of Behavioral Research at the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and is a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). At NIDDK, Dr. Hunter led the revision of the NIH Obesity Research Strategic Plan “and developed and led the NIDDK Centers for Diabetes Translation Research,” according to an announcement circulated to OBSSR staff.

Dr. Hunter serves on the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), the Opportunity Network for Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OppNet), the Science of Behavior Change (SOBC), and the Behavior and Environment Subcommittee of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force. As a member of the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Coordinating Committee, Dr. Hunter served on the NIH OBSSR Strategic Plan Working Group.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIH-Supported Dissemination and Implementation Research Training Institute Seeks Applications

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is supporting a training institute designed to provide participants with a “thorough grounding in conducting D&I [dissemination and implementation] research in health across all areas of health and health care.” The Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH) is open to investigators at any career stage interested in conducting D&I research. The training will be conducted both online and a during two-day in-person training session in Bethesda, MD, from August 14 through December 1, 2017. Applications are due June 21, 2017.  For more information, see the program website.

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Posted in Issue 12 (June 13), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

House Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Oversight Hearing on Advances in Biomedical Research

On May 17, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) held an oversight hearing to discuss the advances in biomedical research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH Director Francis Collins was accompanied by Institute directors Anthony Fauci (Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Gary Gibbons (Heart, Lung, and Blood), Joshua Gordon (Mental Health), Doug Lowy (Cancer), and Nora Volkow (Drug Abuse).

Welcoming the agency before the Subcommittee, Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) noted that “investment in NIH has been the key driver in making the United States the world leader of biomedical research and has led to vast improvements in life expectancy and quality of life.” Rep. Cole expressed pride in increasing NIH’s funding by $2 billion both in FY 2017 and FY 2016. He also expressed disappointment with the Administration’s proposed cuts to NIH’s budget in FY 2018.  Specifically, Rep. Cole noted he fears that the proposed cuts would “stall the progress” that Congress’ recent “investments were intended to achieve and potentially discourage promising scientists from entering or remaining in biomedical research.”

Questions from Subcommittee members covered a wide range of topics, including indirect costs, early stage investigators, the Institutional Development Award, minority health and health disparities, the opioid epidemic, the Grant Support Index (GSI), the ECHO study, international competition, public health preparedness, e-cigarettes, and the impact of the hiring freeze and a “good government shut down.” (more…)

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 30), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • AHRQ: National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) (RFA-HS-17-011)\

NIH Opportunities:

  • NIA: Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (P30) (RFA-AG-18-007)
  • NIA: NIA Academic Leadership Career Award (K07) (PAR-17-287)
  • NIA: NIA MSTEM: Advancing Diversity in Aging Research through Undergraduate Education (R25) (PAR-17-290)
  • NIH: Addressing Suicide Research Gaps: Understanding Mortality Outcomes (R01) (RFA-MH-18-410) [NIMH, NCCIH, NIDA, NIMHD]
  • NCI: U.S. Tobacco Control Policies to Reduce Health Disparities (R01) (PAR-17-217), (R21) (PAR-17-218)
  • NCI: Leveraging Population-based Cancer Registry Data to Study Health Disparities (R21) (PA-17-288), (R01) (PA-17-289)
  • NIAAA: Specialized Alcohol Research Centers (P50) (RFA-AA-18-001)
  • NCCIH: Behavioral Interventions for Prevention of Opioid Use Disorder or Adjunct to Medication Assisted Treatment-SAMHSA Opioid STR Grants (R21/R33) (RFA-AT-18-001)
  • OBSSR/NIDDK: Psychological, Behavioral, and Neurocognitive-Focused Ancillary Studies to the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans Consortium (MoTrPAC) (U01) (RFA-DK-17-009)
  • NIH: Addressing Suicide Research Gaps: Aggregating and Mining Existing Data Sets for Secondary Analyses (R01) (RFA-MH-18-400) [OBSSR, NIMH, NCCIH, NIAAA, NIDA]
  • NHLBI: Catalyzing Innovation in Late Phase Clinical Trial Design and Statistical Analysis Plans Resource Access (X01) (PAR-17-294)

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 30), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Funding Opportunity Announcements

  • NHLBI: ImPlementation REsearCh to DEvelop Interventions for People Living with HIV (PRECluDE) (U01) (RFA-HL-18-007)
  • NIA: Uncovering the Causes, Contexts, and Consequences of Elder Mistreatment (R01) (RFA-AG-18-010)
  • NIAAA: Understanding Processes of Recovery in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder (R21) (PA-17-284) (R01) (PA-17-285)
  • NIBIB, NIDDK, NINDS: Administrative Supplements for Participation in the Concept to Clinic: Commercializing Innovation (C3i) Program (Admin Supp) (PA-17-286)
  • NIDA: Wearable to Track Recovery and Relapse Factors for People w/ Addiction(R43/R44) (RFA-DA-18-010)
  • NIH/FDA: Tobacco Regulatory Science (R01) (RFA-OD-17-007) [NCI, NHLBI, NIAAA, NIDA, NIEHS, ODP]
  • NIH: Tobacco Regulatory Science (R03) (RFA-OD-17-008), (R21) (RFA-OD-17-009) [NCI, NHLBI, NIAAA, NIDA, NIEHS, ODP]

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 16), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIH Announces Major Policy Shift: Agency to Impose Cap on R01s Held by Grantees

On May 2, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced that the agency would be initiating a new approach to grant funding designed to “optimize stewardship of tax payers’ dollars.” Essentially, the new policy would limit the number of investigator-initiated (R01) grants held by grantees to three. According to NIH, this change would affect approximately 6 percent of current investigators but would free up resources to support nearly 1,600 additional grants. Announcing the policy change, Collins stressed that the new policy would ensure that the funds given by NIH “are producing the best results from our remarkable scientific workforce.”

According to the NIH director, the change in policy would take advantage of “new and powerful ways to assess the effectiveness of NIH research investments to be sure that the funds we are given are producing the best results from our remarkable scientific workforce. We would pursue this strategy regardless of the level of budget support.” The agency intends to address the issue at each of the institutes’ and centers’ quarterly national advisory committee meetings. Prior to Collins’ official announcement, NIH Principle Deputy Director Larry Tabak held a conference call to brief the scientific community on the forthcoming changes. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 16), Update, Volume 36 (2017)


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