AAMC submitted comments on April 1 on a proposed framework to guide the development of the next strategic plan for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for fiscal years (FY) 2021 to 2025, a requirement of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-255).
The AAMC supported the three main objectives proposed by NIH: advancing biomedical and behavioral sciences; developing, maintaining, and renewing scientific research capacity; and promoting the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in science. The AAMC also commended the NIH for placing an objective around ethics and accountability on “equal footing” with other research objectives.
The AAMC also supported five cross-cutting themes listed in the framework, identifying values or aspirations intended to apply across all NIH research and programs. The themes include increasing, enhancing, and supporting diversity; improving women’s and minority health and reducing health disparities; optimizing data science; promoting collaborative science; and addressing health challenges across the lifespan. The AAMC strongly endorsed these themes, noting that many are included in AAMC position statements.
The association commented that the inclusion of a theme to apply across all NIH research programs — such as reducing health disparities or promoting data science — should also strengthen the role of agency components specifically dedicated to those topics, such as the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) or the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy.
Among other research areas for additional consideration in the NIH strategic plan, the AAMC suggested the role of big data and the development of real-world evidence, with care to avoid or reduce biases; artificial intelligence and machine learning; and increased focus on social determinants of health.
The NIH anticipates releasing the final FY 2021-2025 strategic plan in December 2020.