The AAMC Aug. 14 submitted comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in response to a Request for Information inviting comments and suggestions on a framework for a 5-year NIH-wide strategic plan. Such a plan was mandated in the 2014 “CRomnibus” federal spending bill [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 12, 2014] and is due to congress by December 2015.
In its letter, the AAMC supports the proposed framework and agrees that an agency-wide plan cannot provide an exhaustive overview of the myriad scientific directions and questions supported by NIH funding. The AAMC also agrees that the “areas of opportunity that apply across biomedicine” (fundamental science, health promotion/disease prevention, and treatments/cures) capture the most pressing and emerging opportunities in biomedical research for NIH.
The letter suggests several points of consideration as NIH continues its development of the strategic plan, including that the plan be flexible and updated or revised as needed to fit the goals and predictable nature of scientific research and that building an evidence base to eliminate health disparities will involve a systems approach across all the areas of opportunity. The comments also urge NIH to consider the plans and research goals of other agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services and explore opportunities for collaboration where possible.
Additionally, the letter suggests that the inclusion of goals to enhance the stewardship of the research enterprise is critical, including: the development of a diverse workforce; a reduction of administrative burden; a focus on research rigor and reproducibility; and an emphasis on research partnerships.