Created by on 09/10/2012

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) Council of Councils met on Wednesday, July 5th. Dr. James Anderson, DPCPSI Director, began the meeting by reviewing the current activities of the six offices that constitute DPCPSI. The newest of the six offices, the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs, includes the Division of Comparative Medicine, Division of Construction and Instruments, and the Office of Science Education, which was moved into DPCPSI from the National Center for Research Resources upon its dissolution last year. Following Dr. Anderson’s update, Dr. William Watson, Health Science Administrator, Division of Comparative Medicine, provided an overview on the training programs available for veterinarians who wish to pursue biomedical research.
Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director, next presented an NIH-wide update to the Council. Describing the current state of biomedical research as “scary” in terms of the fiscal realities but “exciting” in regard to scientific discovery, he focused on four specific opportunities in fiscal year 2013: Investing in Basic Research, Accelerating Discovery through Technology, Advancing Translational Sciences, and New Investigators/New Ideas. When asked by a Council member what can be done to help the financial outlook, Dr. Collins explained that the scientific community needs to tell exciting stories of discovery to their legislators. Inviting legislators to your laboratory is one way that the community can accomplish that, he said.
After lunch, the working group charged with implementing the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendations on chimpanzees in NIH-supported research provided an update. Six meetings have been held since the working group was formally constituted in February. Members have reviewed awarded active projects to assess whether they conform with the IOM recommendations and conduced three field trips to chimpanzee facilities. The group has also consulted with experts on some of the issues that were not fully resolved in the IOM report, such as potential emerging diseases and what constitutes an ethologically appropriate chimpanzee habitat. In addition, the co-chairs described the Oversight Committee for Protection of Chimpanzees in Research (OCPCR), which will be made up of public and non-federal members. The OCPCR will review all research grant applications proposing the use of NIH-owned chimpanzees to determine whether the application fulfills the IOM principles and meets all of the IOM criteria for use. This review will occur after the grant has been approved but before funding is awarded. A final report of the working group’s recommendations will be released in January, followed by a 60-day public comment period. Slides for all presentations at the meeting can be viewed here.