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IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
November 20, 2002
Discussion ItemsI. Policy on Open Science Discourse
Dr. Zerhouni noted that he had reviewed the NIH Policy on Scientific and Professional Information Presented by NIH Employees (section 1184 of the NIH Policy Manual) and found it to be a clear statement of NIH policy in this area. He stressed that he is personally committed to open scientific discourse and reiterated its importance to the research enterprise both at NIH and in general.
II. Update on "Scientific Workshop: Menopausal Hormone Therapy"
Dr. Kirschstein reported that the HT Workshop went extremely well and that presenters of all points of view attended. Dr. Pinn noted that she has received positive feedback across the board. Dr. Kirschstein mentioned that the Annals of Internal Medicine will publish the Executive Summary of the Workshop and that it will also be posted on the ORWH Web site.
III. Update on Information Technology (IT) Consolidation
Mr. Graeff reported on NIH participation in HHS efforts to consolidate IT functions department wide. Dr. Zerhouni stressed that he is not satisfied with the current interoperability of NIH sites and programs and urged everyone's cooperation, collaboration, and proactivity in developing a trans-NIH strategy that would include centrally maintained highways. He asked Mr. Graeff to present him with a strategic plan for IT across the NIH.
IV. Update from NIH Director and Recent Presentation to Congress
In order to give attendees a sense of his public message and to solicit their input, Dr. Zerhouni recapped his October 9 presentation before the Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education and Related Agencies of the House Appropriations Committee. In preface, he mentioned the types of comments he had been hearing and thus had wanted to address in his appearance. These comments included concerns that NIH research efforts do not translate into actual health benefits and that it is unclear what NIH has done and plans to do with its increased budget. Dr. Zerhouni explained that his aim was to show where medical science and public health would be if we had not made the investments we have made. Then he provided data as examples of the how the investment in areas such as HIV research had affected the AIDS epidemic. Dr. Zerhouni asked IC Directors to send him examples from their own research areas for future reference as NIH continues to be asked to justify the increases in its budget.
V. IC Directors Meeting Agenda-Setting Committee Proposal
Dr. Zerhouni placed on the table a plan whereby a small group of IC Directors would hold a planning session on the first Thursday of each month in lieu of the regularly scheduled IC Directors' meeting to consider future meeting discussions and decisions. The remaining three monthly meetings would then be devoted respectively to IC information items, decision items, and OD information items. Dr. Fauci seconded the plan and all agreed that this proposal should be instituted.
VI. Information Items
Dr. Ehrenfeld gave a Combined Federal Campaign update and urged proactive participation by senior staff, especially in light of this year's shortened campaign.
Dr. Collins provided information on the recent International HapMap Project organizational meeting and subsequent press conference on October 29.
Dr. Kirschstein invited all to attend the December 5 Advisory Committee to the Director Meeting.
Dr. Olden noted that Dr. Cynthia Kenyon of UCSF recently gave a remarkable lecture at NIEHS on "Genes and Cells that Regulate the Lifespan of C. elegans. " He also pointed out that the next meeting of the Committee on Emerging Issues and Data on Environmental Contaminants of the National Academies of Science will include a dialogue among stakeholders in toxicogenomics research about how to use the data being developed in this area.
Dr. Grady closed the meeting by remembering the three faculty members recently murdered at the University of Arizona's school of nursing. She observed that they were dedicated professionals who together comprised a wealth of nursing experience and knowledge and that one of them had been a leading figure in the field of end-of-life palliative care.
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