Washington Update

Emphasis on Data Science and Shared Research Resources at NIGMS Advisory Council Meeting

By: Yvette Seger
Thursday, February 15, 2018

During the January 19 meeting of the National Advisory Council of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), Council members discussed several topics of interest to FASEB member societies. During his opening remarks, Jon Lorsch, PhD, NIGMS Director, talked about his role on the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Scientific Data Council.

The group is focused on the development of a Congressionally mandated, NIH-wide strategic plan for data science that seeks to modernize data infrastructure for enhanced sharing, access, and interoperability of data resulting from NIH funded research. The plan is divided into five domains: data infrastructure; data resources; advanced management, analytics, and visualization tools; workforce development; and policy, stewardship, and sustanability.

Within each domain, Dr. Lorsch highlighted key strategic objectives. Throughout his presentation, he emphasized the need to separate the support for databases, knowledgebases, and tool development, noting that in the past, these resources were evaluated and funded as research grants rather than core research infrastructure. The draft plan will be released for stakeholder feedback in the next few weeks, with the final plan due to Congress in May.

Sheenah Mische, PhD, FASEB Board Member and Chair of FASEB’s Shared Research Resources Subcommittee, presented an overview of FASEB’s recent report, Maximizing Shared Research Resources. Issued in October 2017, the report utilized information from a FASEB-initiated survey of shared resource users regarding current usage and needs, funding, and training and career opportunities.

After highlighting the benefits of shared resources, Dr. Mische outlined the report’s key findings and recommendations.  Several Council members reported having circulated the report within their institutions, and noted the similar challenges for shared research resources and data science infrastructure in terms of financial support. Dr. Lorsch noted that these challenges were not unique to NIH, and his desire to engage with other NIH institutes and federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy Office of Science.

Additional information about NIGMS Advisory Council, including meeting materials and archived videocasts of meetings, can be found here.