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IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
November 14, 2001
I. Grants Funding Under a Continuing Resolution
Dr. Kirschstein explained that while the Senate has not yet passed an appropriations bill for NIH, the President's budget identified commitments that we need to fulfill. At the same time, we now must spend more on bioterrorism without any assurances that we will receive supplemental funding to cover those expenditures.
Dr. Baldwin noted that the problem is concentrated in NIAID, which must spend anywhere from $154 million to $220 million for bioterrorism in FY02. These activities include research related to smallpox vaccines, a crash program to develop an anthrax vaccine, and development of new facilities. Dr. Fauci clarified that we were asked for a bioterrorism supplement request, but the NIH submission was not included in the HHS request. If we do not receive supplemental funding for these activities, NIAID will face a large problem. NIAID's type 5 awards alone are $45 million. Dr. Baldwin discussed two options if we do not receive supplemental funding: 1) use the NIH Director's 1 percent transfer authority to help spread the cost of the bioterrorism activities, or 2) reduce the type 5s by a very small amount across the board. Full funding of noncompeting awards is part of our budget submission. Dr. Kirschstein noted that the 1 percent transfer authority cannot be used under a continuing resolution. Dr. Baldwin said no money needs to be moved at this point, but commitments do need to be made now. The group agreed that the burden should be shared and that this is the kind of situation the 1 percent transfer authority was designed for. The decision was to honor full commitments for Type 5s with the understanding that, if necessary, the 1 percent transfer authority will be used to make up an NIAID shortfall.
II. Update on Stem Cell Research
Dr. Baldwin, who testified on the status of the stem cell registry in front of Senator Specter yesterday, said the registry has been developed but is not yet published on the NIH Web site. She asked IC Directors to name a contact for implementation issues. Dr. Kirschstein clarified that we cannot publish the registry until the White House says we can. She said we will move as quickly as possible once the White House approves it, and she will immediately notify all IC Directors. Dr. Baldwin said some, but not all, stem cell derivers need infrastructure support. She is working with NCRR, and she said an overall plan is needed to ensure equity. Dr. Collins raised the issue of a stem cell repository, an idea that Dr. Vaitukaitis said NCRR supports. Dr. Baldwin said many derivers are unwilling to give out cell lines without recipient training, which would be different for each deriver; this would pose a problem because a level playing field is needed, even if different strategies are used. She said the timing is not right to consider establishing a repository now and it would cause problems with individual derivers. Dr. Kirschstein promised to revisit the issue at a later date. Dr. Gottesman clarified that while there will be a core facility for intramural research, this is not the same as a repository. Dr. Baldwin noted the need for extramural training, perhaps by working with the associations. Within NIH Dr. Baldwin will add this training into the extramural staff training to address policy and procedures on human embryonic stem cell research. She hopes to have the first internal training session toward the end of the month. Drs. Baldwin and McGowan have discussed having investigators cite which specific stem cell lines they plan to use so that we can track the information. Dr. Baldwin will update a Frequently Asked Questions section of the Web site as needed. Dr. Kirschstein suggested sending any updates to IC Directors. In Dr. Baldwin's opinion, the indirect cost issue is the most difficult one we face in the stem cell implementation process; she is working on it.
III. Travel for NIH Intramural Scientists
Dr. Sontag is now scheduled to attend the November 15 IC Directors' meeting, and Dr. Gottesman hopes to send him a travel budget approximately equal to last year's before then. The projection for FY02 is very close to the actual amount spent in FY01. Dr. Gottesman said that we need to decide how to manage the travel budget. A computer program is being developed that will allow us to monitor travel expenditures. Dr. Ehrenfeld requested general guidelines on how many trips per year are suggested for various categories of employees so there is some rough equity among ICs. Dr. Baldwin will send the extramural numbers to IC Directors. Dr. Lenfant said IC Directors need to know whenever requests for data are made to members of their staffs. Dr. Gottesman said the next step is to review the categories of travel and decide if the number of trips are appropriate for each.
IV. Information Items
On November 20, Drs. Kirschstein and Skirboll and several IC Directors will meet with Dr. Bruce Alberts, NAS President, and Dr. Fran Sharples, Director of the NAS Board on Life Sciences and project director for the NAS/IOM study of the NIH organization. All of the money for the study has been obligated. The first piece of the study will be a historical review of NIH organizational changes. The group told Dr. Skirboll that rather than designate an IC contact person, they prefer to have all questions about the study go directly to the IC Directors. NAS staff will contact Dr. Skirboll, who will direct them to the appropriate IC Director(s).
Dr. Spiegel announced that he will be sending IC Directors a letter requesting confirmation of a contact for two congressional reports on diabetes. He also alerted them to the May 2002 JAMA theme issue on diabetes; he plans to submit a special communication to them about that issue.
Mr. Ficca gave an update on parking changes. He reported that all NIH mail facilities were tested for anthrax and all were negative; a surveillance program will be ongoing. The group asked Mr. Ficca to notify all employees of this reassuring development.
Karen Pelham O'Steen
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