NIGMS Feedback Loop home page

June 27, 2005

A Message from the NIGMS Director

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is one of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. By supporting basic biomedical research and training nationwide, NIGMS lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

The NIGMS Feedback Loop is an e-mail newsletter alerting researchers to NIGMS funding opportunities, trends, and plans. We encourage your input and feedback on Institute activities.

All NIGMS grantees are automatically subscribed to the NIGMS Feedback Loop; other interested individuals are encouraged to subscribe themselves. To subscribe, change your subscription options, or unsubscribe, visit the NIGMS Feedback Loop subscription page on the NIH LISTSERV Web site at

A Message from the NIGMS Director

Over the past 7 years, NIGMS has initiated a number of exciting larger-scale programs directed toward emerging areas of science or experiments in new organizational models for addressing important research problems. Among these programs, one of the most diverse and intriguing is the Large-Scale Collaborative Project Award program (often referred to as the "glue grant" program). Between 2000 and 2003, a total of five glue grants were funded (for more information, see These are:

Alliance for Cellular Signaling (2000)
Cell Migration Consortium (2001)
Inflammation and the Host Response to Injury (2001)
Consortium for Functional Glycomics (2001)
Lipid Metabolites and Pathways Strategy Consortium (2003)

Each glue grant has an exciting and ambitious scientific agenda. In the course of their activities, these grants have generated a number of resources of use to the larger scientific community. The Web sites developed and maintained by the glue grants describe these resources and how to obtain them. The sites also provide detailed information about the scientific areas that the glue grants address.


If you are interested in these fields—or just curious about these programs—I urge you to take a look at one or more of the sites.

I welcome your thoughts about these programs or, as always, about other issues relevant to NIGMS. Please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail at

In other news, NIGMS is working to make its Web site easier for you to use and for us to maintain. Among the changes is a redesign of the site to more effectively highlight timely information about NIGMS funding opportunities and results.

In coming weeks, interested Feedback Loop readers will have an opportunity to preview the new site and to provide comments on its organization and design. If you would like to participate in the preview, please send an e-mail message to NIGMS Electronic Outreach Strategist Craig Hicks at

Jeremy M. Berg
National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Advisory Council Concept Clearances

Proposed new NIGMS research and training programs are made public at the open session of National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council meetings. Council approval of new initiatives (and major changes to existing initiatives) is called "concept clearance." Concept clearance authorizes NIGMS staff to develop plans, publish announcements in the NIH Guide, and fund grants. During the initiative planning stages that follow concept clearance, NIGMS welcomes comments and suggestions from the community.

At its May 2005 meeting, the Council discussed the six concept clearances summarized below. For additional details, see the Council minutes or contact the identified NIGMS staff members.

Structural Genomics/PSI Knowledge Base

NIGMS program director Jerry Li described plans to create a central Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) Knowledge Base that will provide an integrated information repository and Web portal for PSI targets, structures, computational models, computer programs, methods, publications, and other PSI deliverables. The PSI Knowledge Base will also provide facilities for functional annotation of structural information and interfaces for target solicitation. Dr. Li received Council approval for development of the PSI Knowledge Base using either a cooperative agreement or contract mechanism. Funding for the PSI Knowledge Base and the PSI Materials Repository (see next item) will be raised from the designated PSI setaside by rebudgeting approximately $3 million/year previously committed for funding of the PSI centers. For more information, contact Dr. Li at or 301-594-0828.

PSI Materials Repository

Catherine Lewis, chief of the NIGMS Biophysics Branch, described plans to establish a PSI Materials Repository to store and distribute clones generated by PSI centers. The goals of the repository include centralizing, coordinating, standardizing, and archiving materials from PSI-1 and PSI-2 centers. In addition, the repository will provide direct links to the PSI Knowledge Base and other related databases. Dr. Lewis received Council approval to establish the PSI Materials Repository using either a cooperative agreement or contract mechanism. For more information, contact her at or 301-594-0828.

Collaborative Genetic and Genomic Studies of Basic Behavior in Animal Models

NIGMS program director Laurie Tompkins described plans for a program announcement to facilitate collaborations between behavioral scientists and investigators with expertise in state-of-the-art genetics, molecular biology, or genomics. The goal is to enhance existing animal models or develop new models of normal or abnormal human behavior. The collaborations will consist of one investigator who is an expert basic behavioral scientist with little or no experience doing genetic, molecular, or genomic analysis, and another investigator who is an expert in genetics, genomics, or molecular biology but has little or no experience analyzing behavior. Dr. Tompkins received Council approval for issuing a program announcement soliciting collaborative R01 and R21 applications. For more information, contact her at or 301-594-0943.

Changes to the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program

Adolphus Toliver, chief of the NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers Branch, discussed the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program, which supports partnerships between community colleges granting associate degrees and colleges and universities granting the baccalaureate degree. The Bridges program supports efforts to identify underrepresented students and provide them with necessary academic skills to transition to undergraduate degree programs in the biomedical, behavioral, or related sciences. Dr. Toliver received Council approval for changes to the Bridges program announcement that broaden the eligibility of students who can participate in this program. For more information, contact him at or 301-594-3900.

Changes to the Minority Biomedical Research Support SCORE Program

Hinda Zlotnik, chief of the NIGMS Minority Biomedical Research Support Branch, described proposed changes to the Support of Continuous Research Excellence (SCORE) program, in which the amount of support for research projects submitted by individual investigators will vary according to their developmental stage and objectives. Research collaborations will be encouraged to facilitate an individual investigator's progression to a level where he or she can successfully compete for other external sources of support. Dr. Zlotnik received Council approval to make the proposed changes to the Minority Biomedical Research Support SCORE program. For more information, contact her at or 301-594-3900.

NIGMS AIDS Structural Biology Program

HIV components complexed with cellular components are important potential targets for new generations of anti-AIDS drugs. James Cassatt, director of the NIGMS Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics, described plans for an initiative in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that would focus on the structural determination of complexes between HIV proteins and cellular components. Since the open session of Council was running late, the Council decided to continue discussion of this initiative at its September 2005 meeting. In the meantime, Dr. Cassatt requests comments and suggestions from the community. Contact him at or 301-594-0828.

NIGMS-Sponsored Event

Public Briefing: Centers for Innovative Wound Healing Research (RFA-GM-06-002)

NIGMS program director Richard Ikeda will host a public briefing to discuss RFA-GM-06-002, "Centers for Innovative Wound Healing Research." The briefing will be conducted by conference call on Tuesday, June 28, 2005, at 1:00 PM EDT. Dr. Ikeda will open the call with a short description of RFA-GM-06-002 and will then answer questions about the RFA. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to participate. To join the briefing by phone, call 888-455-3614 a few minutes before the start of the session, provide the pass code "Ikeda," and give the moderator your name and professional affiliation. For more information, contact Dr. Ikeda at or 301-594-3827.

Job Announcement

Director, NIGMS Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

The NIGMS Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB) supports research on bioinformatics, modeling of complex biological systems, and mathematical biology. It also manages the NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative (BISTI), an agency-wide effort to stimulate and coordinate the use of computer science and technology to address problems in biology and medicine. In addition, CBCB plays a major role in coordinating and directing the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology component of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The vacancy announcement (NIGMS-05-0011) is posted on the NIH CareerHere Web site. The application period ends on Thursday, August 4. If you are interested in this position or know of others who might be strong candidates, please contact Dr. James Cassatt at or 301-594-0828.