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NIH Panel Makes Recommendations on Assessing the Value of Biomedical Research

December 20, 2013—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board on Dec. 13 accepted the final report of its “Working Group on Approaches to Assess the Value of Biomedical Research Supported by NIH.”  The working group was chaired by Gail Cassell, Ph.D., visiting professor, Harvard Medical School.

The panel concluded that “at the present time, the essential tools, techniques, and data systems required for developing comprehensive measurements of value at an aggregate NIH level are in early stages of development.” The panel called for a sustained NIH investment to strengthen its data infrastructure and to provide a dedicated funding stream or mechanism to support assessment projects.

The report recommended that “NIH should intensify its efforts to systematically, comprehensively, and strategically assess the value of biomedical research for the purposes of accountability, effective management, and public awareness.”

The panel also urged, “Assessments of NIH’s value should draw clear connections between the generation of basic and clinical knowledge and the impact of this knowledge along differing translational pathways.” Further, the panel recommended, “Every assessment activity that NIH undertakes should begin with identifying the purpose of the study and its audiences.”

The report highlighted the challenges of attributing outcomes to specific contributors or research projects, especially in light of the timeframe needed for NIH-funded discoveries to be applied.

The panel further recommended the establishment of a trans-NIH Committee on Assessments to develop a strategy to support or conduct assessments and to oversee efforts by NIH to strengthen data needed for assessing value.  It also called for NIH to partner with its many stakeholders on assessment efforts.

In its report, the panel cited the utility of the AAMC-commissioned report on research evaluation written by RAND Europe, “Measuring Research: A guide to research evaluation frameworks and tools”.


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806