February 13, 2008
IC Directors
Kerry Brink, Assistant to the Deputy Director, NIH
IC Directors’ Meeting Highlights – December 13, 2007

Discussion Items

I. NIH Task Force on Research in the Emergency Setting — Dr. Walter Koroshetz, Deputy Director, NINDS

The Emergency Department (ED) is a convergence point for many, if not most, disorders. Forty-three percent of all hospital admissions enter through the ED and require rapid decision-making for diagnosis, treatment and triage. The NIH Task Force on Research in the Emergency Setting will convene four roundtables for NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) to address how NIH and the extramural community can best advance research in the emergency setting.

The ICs that fund the roundtables will chair the Roundtable Steering Committees, and additional members will be provided by the Task Force and other ICs. Presentations by selected ICs regarding current research and by members of the emergency care community on the key scientific questions, will inform discussions of challenges, lessons learned and successful models. The Roundtable Steering Committees will determine:

  • Key scientific research questions that are essential and fundamental to moving the field forward;
  • Knowledge that will advance the scientific underpinning of emergency care;
  • Barriers;
  • Best means to advance research through training (i.e. Clinical and Translational Science Awards, IC specific grant processes, networks, etc.).

Individual Roundtable Steering Committee reports will be submitted to the NIH Office of Science Policy (OSP) by May, 2008. Goals of the reports are to identify:

  • Scientific opportunities that will enable emergency medical providers to:
    • Offer more effective treatments to patients with emergent medical and surgical conditions;
    • Make more rapid and accurate diagnoses;
    • More effectively engage in research to advance the care of patients with emergent medical and surgical conditions;
  • NIH's role in this process.

An executive summary will be developed by ORS and after final review by the Task Force members, the report will be submitted to the NIH Director in July 2008.

II. Peer Review Update to IC Directors — Dr. Larry Tabak, Director NIDCR

Dr. Tabak explained that the NIH Director, Dr. Zerhouni's, charge 'to fund the best science, by the best scientists, with the least administrative burden,' has guided the peer review enhancement effort. The increasing complexity and interdisciplinary nature of modern research create new challenges for the system used by NIH to support biomedical and behavioral research. As the scientific and public health landscape continue to evolve, it is critical that the processes used to support science are fair, efficient, and effective for applicants, reviewers, and NIH staff.

The NIH peer review self-study involves an external working group, the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group (ACD WG) co-chaired by Drs. Yamamoto and Tabak, and an internal Steering Committee Working Group (SCWG) co-chaired by Drs. Tabak and Berg. In parallel, the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) has launched several process-oriented pilots and initiatives.

During the diagnostic phase of the peer review self-study, the NIH canvassed its stakeholder communities, including the extramural community, professional societies, advocacy groups, and NIH staff, to gather a broad set of input and ideas for enhancing the peer review system. This process included: posting an online Request for Information (RFI), an NIH-internal survey, and an interactive website; collecting data from previous and extant NIH peer review experiments and practices; direct communication with stakeholders through phone calls, email, and letters; examining other agencies' (domestic and international) peer review systems; and hosting a series of consultation meetings across the nation. The consultation meetings followed a variety of formats to collect opinions, recommendations and foster discussion.

During this iterative process, the external and internal input on challenges and potential actions was synthesized into the following emerging themes:

  • Administrative Burden
  • Investigator Support
  • Review and Reviewer Quality
  • Strains on the System

The results of the diagnostic analysis were reported to the NIH Steering Committee on December 6th and to the full committee of the ACD on December 7th. Currently, both the ACD WG and SC WG members are meeting to deliberate and finalize recommendations on the major challenges and potential actions. Formal recommendations will be made to the NIH leadership in February 2008.

Kerry Brink
cc: OD Senior Staff

This page was last reviewed on February 27, 2008 .
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