Washington Update

FASEB Participates in White House Summit on Research Environment

By: Jennifer Zeitzer
Thursday, November 21, 2019

On November 5, FASEB CEO Frank Krause joined senior leaders from federal funding and security agencies, universities, medical centers, scientific societies, and non-profit organizations at an invitation-only summit convened by the Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE).

Launched in May 2019, JCORE is a special committee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). JCORE is charged with coordinating interagency efforts to develop policy recommendations and best practices related to improving the safety, integrity, and productivity of research settings. “FASEB was pleased to be part of a tremendous effort to collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders in the U.S. research enterprise. JCORE, NSTC, and agency staff were there to listen and engage,” said Krause.

During the summit, special emphasis was placed on JCORE’s integrative approach to developing policy recommendations aligned with the work of four topical subcommittees:

  1. Reducing Administrative Burdens
  2. Rigor and Integrity
  3. Research Security
  4. Safe and Inclusive Research Environments.

Attendees participated in breakout sessions to identify issues related to promoting transparency, maintaining integrity, reducing workload, and improving coordination. The purpose of the breakouts was to collect candid feedback from participants in response to specific questions, which will then inform policies, guidance, and best practices developed by JCORE.

Several of the key takeaways from the breakout sessions echo policy statements previously issued by FASEB, including the benefits of providing open access to research data, and the storage and cost limitations associated with maintaining data sets. FASEB’s 2016 Statement on Data Management and Access included similar recommendations. A discussion on efforts to address harassment noted the importance of maintaining confidentiality, as FASEB mentioned in a letter earlier this year to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) expressing concerns about new harassment reporting mechanisms established by the agency.

The event also featured remarks from OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier, PhD, who praised the tremendous progress the U.S. has made in biomedical research, engineering, environmental science, and supercomputing. Dr. Droegemeier noted that coordination among the subcommittees is critical because the policy solutions, guidance, and best practices that will be developed by JCORE are all interrelated. He also reinforced that message in a September letter  to the scientific community, stating that he welcomes input from researchers “on the front lines” and pledged to listen and continue gathering input through additional regional meetings at universities and research institutions.

JCORE previously met on July 9 to review the work of the subcommittees, which included supporting ongoing interagency and agency-specific commitments to address harassment in science and promoting policies on improving rigor and reproducibility. The subcommittees are also assessing progress in implementing specific provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act intended to reduce researcher burden and coordinating efforts to provide outreach to and develop guidance for academic institutions in standardizing conflict of interest and funding commitment disclosure requirements and enforcement.

JCORE is co-chaired by Dr. Droegemeier; National Science Foundation Director France Cordova, PhD; NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD; Paul Dabbar, Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy; and Walter Copan, PhD, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. A summary of the summit and other information about JCORE is available on the NSTC website.