Chaired by Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, who is performing the duties of the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) met on Dec. 8-9. The two-day meeting included presentations on the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), proposed changes to peer review, and the NIH’s ongoing efforts to foster open data, among other items.
On Day One, Renee Wegrzyn, PhD, director of ARPA-H, reaffirmed the agency’s mission to fund short-term, high-risk/high-reward projects and highlighted ARPA-H’s solicitations for term-limited program managers. The meeting also included a presentation by Noni Byrnes, PhD, on proposed changes to the evaluation and scoring criteria of NIH Research Project Grants (RPG) as well as proposed changes to National Research Service Award Fellowship peer review. The proposed changes to RPG peer review and the fellowship peer review are aimed at reducing bias and eliminating barriers to equity.
The ACD also established a working group examining ways the NIH could catalyze the development and use of alternatives to animal-based models, which will in part respond to congressional inquiries about the use of animals in biomedical research. Day One closed out with updates on the formation of a new ACD Postdoc Working Group, geared at addressing the shortage of U.S. PhDs seeking postdoctoral positions. Jodi Yellin, PhD, AAMC director of science policy, will serve on this working group.
Day Two of the ACD meeting highlighted the NIH’s efforts to support open data, including the agency’s new data management and sharing policy (effective Jan. 25, 2023) to promote the sharing of scientific data. Two presentations that focused on the NIH’s ongoing efforts to establish a more equitable culture in the biomedical ecosystem — one on the ACD Subgroup on Individuals with Disabilities and the second on the UNITE initiative to end structural racism in biomedical science — closed out the meetings for this year.