IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
October 22, 2004
I. Annual Recognition of Science Advances
Dr. Skirboll presented various pros and cons of establishing a formal process for annual selection and recognition of the previous year's ten most significant NIH research advances. The starting point for the discussion was an OSP scenario wherein the process would begin with IC nominations and then move to a panel of outside leaders with a broad range of expertise who would narrow the nominations. ADSP also introduced a list of proposed criteria and alternative scenarios for the selection process.
The group discussed at length the potential process for nominating and selecting advances as well as the criteria to be used. The discussion raised a number of issues that need further resolution. Dr. Zerhouni concluded that we will continue to refine the process for future consideration and possible implementation in calendar year 2005.
II. DHHS Expert Participation in World Health Organization (WHO) Consultations
Dr. Hrynkow discussed a policy announced by the OS Office of Global Health Affairs (OGHA) in April 2004 whereby that Office will coordinate HHS staff participation in all formal consultative meetings hosted by the WHO. The WHO has agreed that when seeking such U.S. Government experts, it will either request a specific HHS expert through OGHA or provide OGHA with a set of skills/expertise required for a specific consultation. OGHA will provide the name of the HHS agency representative to the WHO, and an HHS employee can accept only in his or her official capacity, except in rare circumstances. In its response, the WHO noted that such experts must represent the WHO and cannot request or receive instructions from any Government.
Because WHO staff is not yet in full compliance and IC scientists are still receiving direct invitations to represent NIH, Dr. Zerhouni has asked that FIC serve as the focal point for full implementation of this new process. Referring to her June 28, 2004, e-mail to IC Directors, Dr. Hrynkow asked that, during the interim period of implementation, NIH staff receiving invitations directly from the WHO fax them to George Herrfurth at FIC (301-480-3414) and to Mary Lou Valdez at OGHA (301-443-6288) and not accept any invitation until FIC hears back after its consultation with OGHA (2-day turn around). When the process is fully implemented at the WHO, OGHA will forward WHO requests for NIH experts to FIC, which will work with IC International Representatives in selection of experts. Dr. Hrynkow told the group that this policy does not apply to individual meetings at the WHO and that FIC is seeking a blanket approval mechanism for those NIH staff who participate at regularly scheduled meetings.
III. The National Children's Study (NCS)
Dr. Alexander updated the group on the NCS, which the 2000 President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children recommended and Congress authorized in the Children's Health Act of 2000. The NICHD/NIH/HHS, along with the NIEHS/NIH/HHS, the CDC/HHS, and the EPA, is responsible for planning, supporting, and conducting a hypothesis-driven national longitudinal study of children, their families, and the environment (defined broadly to include chemical, physical, behavioral, social, and cultural factors). A number of Countries have expressed interest in coordinating with this study in some form.
Dr. Alexander presented the following time line:
For further information and updates on the Study, Dr. Alexander recommended the Study Web site at http://NationalChildrensStudy.gov.
IV. A Proposed U.S. Resource to Define Genetic and Environmental Constitutions to Common Adult Diseases
Dr. Collins explained that recent scientific advances (the Human Genome Project, the Haplotype Map Project, et al.) place scientists in a position to determine the specific genetic and environmental risk factors that affect the health of Americans. He proposed that prospective, population-based cohort studies could offer an adult counterpart to collecting the types of data for adults that will emerge from the NCS for children. An expert working group plans to report to Dr. Zerhouni on scientific options on clinical data collection, costs, etc., in the fall of 2004, and Dr. Collins asked ICs to forward the names of staff members experienced with epidemiology to join an informal discussion group on the scientific issues involved.
This page was last reviewed on October 28, 2004 .
National Institutes of Health (NIH)