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III. NIDCD Director’s Report

Dr. Battey discussed the NIDCD Workgroup on Single and Multiple Project Grants, whose purpose was to explore the benefits and drawbacks of single project (R01) grant as compared to current multiple project (P01, P50, P60) grants. The group, which consisted of 19 clinical and basic scientists, was chaired by Drs. Bronya Keats and Tom Hixon. They had two teleconferences and one on-site meeting in August 1998. They received input from the research community, including positive evaluations from principal investigators holding P series grants. Dr. Battey reported on the group’s recommendations. It was recommended that NIDCD limit its multiple project research activity to include only projects that are interdependent, interrelated and multidisciplinary, and those for which the research is diminished significantly if the project were crafted as an R01.

Next, Dr. Battey discussed the Core Grant Program (P30), which is supported by many NIH institutes. This would bring advanced technology, cutting-edge instrumentation, unusual animal facility needs or patient populations needed for modern research. The Core Grant Structure (P30) would consist of discrete units or research models such as EM, image analysis, biostatistics, and an animal facility. Services modules would include mechanical, electronic, photography, molecular biology (sequencing, genotyping), continuing education, and public information. NIDCD staff are formulating guidelines and review criteria.

The NIH Interactive Research Project Grant consists of a coordinated submission of two or more R01s on related topics, with a formal agreement for collaboration to achieve goals. R01s can be geographically distinct. The advantage is that each principal investigator (PI) gets recognition for obtaining an independent award, collaboration is on an equal footing, and the grant is portable and can be taken with the PI if he/she should move.

At this point, Dr. Battey answered a number of questions regarding his presentation up to this point.

Dr. Battey reported on the NIDCD Strategic Planning Update. He indicated that information was mailed to the Panel in mid-December. A teleconference call was held on January 19, 1999, and an onsite meeting took place on February 25-26, 1999. The report is being prepared now.

Dr. Battey next spoke about the Trans-NIH Mouse Initiative. In March 1998, Dr. Harold Varmus, Director, NIH, brought together approximately 60 leading mouse biologists to discuss ways that the mouse could be made a more powerful animal model for both normal physiologic processes and disorders. The report issued by the group can be found at http://www.nih.gov/about/director/reports/mgenome.htm.

Recommendations included high resolution maps of mouse genomic sequence, mutagenesis and phenotyping centers to expand the numbers of mutant strains with interesting properties, regional repositories for strain distribution and preservation, and more experts in mouse pathobiology, physiology, and behavior. As a result, new trans-NIH initiatives have been established: mouse genomic sequence with at least 5x coverage, with collaboration from MRC and Department of Energy should be completed by 2003; RFAs will be issued for mutagenesis and phenotyping centers with scientific support for them sponsored by groups of ICs; RFA for repositories to facilitate preservation and distribution of strains; and post-doctoral and mid-career support for training fellowships in mouse pathobiology.

Lastly, Dr. Battey discussed the search for Director, DER, NIDCD. He mentioned that the search committee convened in November-December 1998. They developed a short list of highly qualified candidates, all of whom have now been interviewed. NIDCD should be making an appointment soon.

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