The Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) met Dec. 14 - 15. On the second day, Larry Tabak, DDS, PhD, NIH Deputy Director, and Jose Florez, MD, PhD, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, provided a progress report from the Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group, which they co-chair. The working group, which consists of a diverse mix of senior and junior investigators, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, and NIH leadership, was established in August (see Washington Highlights, Sept. 8) to develop recommendations for how best the NIH can support the career trajectories of promising early stage investigators (ESIs) and early established investigators (EEIs). Dr. Tabak reported that the working group was dissatisfied with current definitions of ESIs and EEIs as too narrowly reflecting the range of promising researchers who are nevertheless vulnerable to losing grant support and careers.
NIH announced last June (see Washington Highlights, June 9) that it will not implement the proposed Grant Support Index limiting the number of awards to an investigator, and would instead ask individual institutes and centers to reprioritize a small percentage of funds specifically to target support for ESIs and EEIs (under an old definition) whose applications scored well with peer review study sections, but which still fall short of the grant funding “paylines.” The NIH Next Generation of Researchers Initiative Working Group will make interim recommendations at the next ACD meeting in June 2018, and issue a final report by next Dec. A separate committee convened by the National Academies at the request of Congress, and also called the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, is also scheduled to release its recommendations in 2018. The AAMC provided recommendations to the National Academies’ committee in Oct.
The ACD also received reports on implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act, the ACD Diversity Working Group, research efforts to address the Opioid crisis, and other activities. Presentation slides and other information are available on the NIH website, including an archive of the meeting webcast.