Here is a link to a useful blog post written by NH Deputy Director Sally Rockey. It summarizes some of the main activities at NIH during the course of 2013. While it begins with a depressing recap of the far-reaching effects of the budget situation, it goes on to highlight some of the main goals and programs of the year. Major themes continue to include data science and efforts to diversify the scientific workforce. The blog is chock-full of hyperlinks to more information on numerous topics. If you plan to develop a long-term relationship with a federal funding agency, it is important to know its mission and funding priorities, and to familiarize yourself each year with the goals identified in the director’s appropriation report, and the suggestions made by the advisory council to the director. Read the full blog post here.
On December 7, the NIH Office of the Director issued a press release announcing a series of new initiates. The initiatives group under two main themes: workforce development and data & informatics.
I strongly recommend that people read the one-page press release to get a sense of the way NIH will set priorities in terms of its funding portfolios going forward. Look for new funding opportunity announcements and NIH policies addressing the issues laid out in this document in the upcoming months/years. It is also worthwhile to peruse the original recommendations given to the NIH Director by the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) last June, from which these initiatives derive.
Within workforce development, topics include the launch of new initiatives to provide mentored support to new researchers, training and standards for mentors, numerous initiatives to promote diversity at all levels, and increased support to grant mechanisms that foster an independent research career, such as the K99/R00. Notably, the following language appears pertaining to peer review: Promote fairness in peer review through interventions including implicit bias and diversity awareness training for both scientific review officers and members of review panels, and piloting a program that would make grant applications completely anonymous.
Under data and informatics, they list the following:
- Maximize the value of biomedical data through a new Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative that would create:
- improved data and software sharing policies, catalogs of research data, and data/metadata standards development to facilitate broader use of biomedical big data
- analysis methods and software development and dissemination
- enhanced training for biomedical big data
- proposed new centers of excellence
- Launch the NIH InfrastructurePlus adaptive environment to advance high-performance computing, agile hosting and storage approaches, and modernization of the network, among other approaches.