IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
February 11, 2002
I. Introduction of Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., and Terrell Halaska
Dr. Kirschstein welcomed Dr. von Eschenbach, NCI Director, to NIH and the IC Directors' meetings. She explained that the Secretary has assigned primary responsibility for each HHS agency to a member of his senior staff. He assigned NIH to Ms. Terrell Halaska, Deputy Chief of Staff. She was unable to attend this meeting, but Dr. Kirschstein will reschedule her visit soon.
II. Update on Mammalian Gene Collection (MGC)
Dr. Collins reminded the group that this is a joint effort with leadership by NCI and NHGRI and participation by many ICs. The MGC is overseen by a blue ribbon panel of external advisors that serves as a steering committee. The steering committee, which met in December, is enthusiastic about progress to date and affirmed the need to press on. Dr. Collins reviewed the goals and strategy of the program.
There are currently a total of 104 human cDNA libraries. Many tissues are represented in these libraries, and the quality is extremely high. IC Directors should notify Dr. Collins if they are aware of other libraries that should be added to the pipeline. There are now more than 10,000 confirmed, non- redundant, full-length clones, of which two-thirds are human and one-third are mouse. By the end of the current funding period, there will be about 26,000 full open reading frame clones. The steering committee has recommended extending this effort for an additional year. Dr. Collins believes doing so would yield an additional 15,000 full open reading frame clones.
The group was very supportive of the overall MGC effort. Dr. Hodes said NIA will provide funds to accelerate the mouse cDNAs, using libraries developed by Dr. Minoru Ko. Dr. Spiegel noted the need to vet additional, specialized libraries. He suggested convening a small group of IC representatives to prioritize which libraries should be vetted. Dr. Collins agreed that this is the right time for such a group. Dr. Collins promised to distribute the materials that were prepared for the steering committee as well as the committee's report as soon as it is available. Dr. Collins proposed that those ICs currently participating continue their support at the existing level for an additional year; he will send a note to ask for updates to the membership of the MGC Interinstitute Coordinating Committee and to solicit firm commitments for FY02.
III. Discussion of the Haplotype Map
Dr. Collins then discussed the Shared Inheritance for Medicine Map (SIMMap), which he said is the key to determining the hereditary factors that contribute to human diseases and to differences in responsiveness to drugs. Two groups have been working intensively for about seven months since the Haplotype Map meeting in July 2001, and the progress and new data are very exciting so far. Dr. Collins reviewed the rationale for the project, which aims to identify susceptibility genes for common diseases. Dr. Collins said the problem is that linkage strategies are underpowered. Association studies have heretofore been dependent on selecting the right candidate gene. This project aims to provide a systematic way to do association studies across the genome. Dr. Collins explained haplotypes, linkage disequilibrium, and the components of SIMMap. He said there is broad enthusiasm for creating a database of human haplotypes and putting it in the public domain. It is likely that the SNPS Consortium and the Wellcome Trust will agree to contribute to this effort, and nations such as Canada, Japan, and China are interested. The total cost of this two-year project is $100 million, of which about half will need to be provided by NIH. NHGRI is committing $10 million each year; it is estimated that NIH would need to add an additional $17.5 million for FY02 and $15.5 million for FY03. Dr. Collins proposed issuing an RFA in March for funding in September. There was general enthusiasm for the science. The group agreed to take up the whole issue of how to fund trans-NIH initiatives such as this at the next NIH Budget Retreat. Dr. Battey noted that Dr. Collins is leveraging a great deal of outside money, which may be contingent on NIH funding. There was general agreement that such partnering with the private sector is very positive. Dr. Collins needs a decision on funding for FY02 within the next month and a projection for FY03 funding levels, recognizing that it will depend on the FY03 budget.
In addition to his note regarding the MGC Interinstitute Coordinating Committee and contributions to the MGC, Dr. Collins will send a note to IC Directors asking for contributions to the SIMMap effort for FY02 and a projection of contributions for FY03.
IV. Information Items
Dr. Kirschstein announced that the Secretary's budget rollout on February 4 will not take place at NIH. The Secretary will be on campus later that afternoon, however, to swear in Dr. von Eschenbach.
Dr. Vaitukaitis said that NCRR set aside $10 million to fund a recent RFA on high-end instrumentation. NCRR received applications for $160 million. She will send IC Directors those applications that are relevant to their programs to see if they want to fund meritorious applications that NCRR cannot fund.
Dr. Kirschstein said that staffers for Senators Harkin and Specter are visiting some ICs tomorrow as part of a series of visits. They are coming for information and they determined who they want to visit. Ms. Quantius said the ICs they have chosen reflect the interests of Senators Harkin and Specter; the meetings are science-driven. Ms. Quantius will send out the bios of the visiting staffers.
Ms. Quantius reported that Mr. Regula has not yet made firm decisions on the House Appropriations hearings. The Secretary is not available until March 13, so the NIH hearings may be later in March.
Mr. Smolonsky said that Senator Specter is holding a hearing today on human cloning. The Administration is pushing the Senate to consider a cloning bill already passed by the House. He also reported that the authorizing committees are drafting human subjects protection legislation.
Karen Pelham O'Steen
This page was last reviewed on August 18, 2003 .
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