IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
April 11, 2005
I. NIH Public Access Policy Update
Dr. Goldschmidts discussed the NIH Public Access Policy, which was posted in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on February 3, 2005, and in the Federal Register on February 9. Beginning May 2, 2005, NIH-funded investigators will be able to submit voluntarily to PubMed Central the author's final manuscript, upon acceptance for publication, that has resulted from research supported in whole or in part with direct costs funding from NIH. The policy release on February 3, involved a telephone briefing with key stakeholders and another with the press. Both briefings went very well, and the topic received considerable press coverage. Letters from Dr. Zerhouni were distributed to extramural scientists receiving NIH funding and to NIH professional extramural staff (program, review, grants management) announcing the release of the policy and highlighting its key components. On behalf of the Public Access team, Dr. Goldschmidts thanked IC Directors and their staff for their assistance in distributing this information. The initial email responses to the policy were about equally divided between supportive and critical. Critical comments were of two schools of thought: that the policy would be detrimental (e.g., would weaken the peer review process or force some publishers to close down) or that it did not go far enough (e.g., should require NIH-funded investigators to submit manuscripts immediately).
The next steps include developing additional information and training for NIH program staff and intramural scientists. Specific activities will include STEP training sessions, an NIH Public Access town meeting, and articles in the NIH Record and the NIH Catalyst. DDER and NLM will continue to serve as the lead NIH partners managing the effort, and Dr. Goldschmidts said that a plan would be submitted to the NIH Program and Evaluation Office for evaluating the policy's implementation. Dr. Timothy Hays, formerly Director of NIMH's Outreach Partnership Program, is joining OER and will serve as the NIH Public Access Project Manager as the initiative moves into the implementation phase.
Asking IC Directors to alert their respective extramural researchers and staff, Dr. Zerhouni stressed that it is critical that NIH spread the message in creative and consistent ways by speaking at various forums and engaging various groups. He relayed how a class of Pennsylvania high school physics students had individually written him letters regarding the project, about half supporting the idea and about half arguing against it. In addition to simply answering by letter, a personal video response will be sent to the students praising their proactive interest and comments and explaining the NIH position and rationale for the policy. Such innovative outreach will be necessary, he affirms, to bring the concept clearly and effectively to the public and all with interest in it.
II. Management Directive 715
Mr. Self presented a State of the Agency Briefing on the NIH EEO Program that summarized the NIH status report and NIH Policy Statement to all employees signed by Dr. Zerhouni on January 26 in accordance with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission Management Directive (MD-715) of October 1, 2003. Under this Directive, the NIH as an HHS agency will continue development and implementation of the essential elements of a model EEO Program including demonstrated commitment by the NIH Director and all senior leadership; integration of EEO into the strategic NIH mission; NIH management and program accountability; proactive prevention of unlawful discrimination; efficiency; and responsiveness and legal compliance. He mentioned several specific focus areas currently being addressed:
The current NIH Status Report is posted on the OEODM Web site at http://oeo.od.nih.gov;
In conclusion, Mr. Self updated the staff on the new OEODM trans-NIH organization. On October 4, 2004, all NIH EEO staff and salaries were consolidated into OEODM and all functional statements and structures were finalized. Phase two will entail a one-year transition in which office space and other logistical and administrative issues will be resolved so as to begin the development of a model NIH EEO program. He discussed OEODM management structure and IC services. He explained that the Office's Division of Program Evaluation will ensure that OEODM programs are effective and will recommend any needed changes on an on-going basis. The main issues to be faced during phase two are consolidation of space, filling of vacancies, training for staff, files consolidation, and trans-NIH implementation of the OEODM online EEO complaints tracking system. In conclusion, the group discussed issues related to female scientists at NIH such as salary and tenure track discrepancies and the need to identify the barriers in those areas.
III. Conflict of Interest Update
Dr. Kington announced establishment of an Advisory Committee on Ethics Regulation Implementation, to be co-chaired by Steve Long, NIAAA, and Dr. Yvonne Maddox, NIDCD. He explained that NIH is making blanket exemption and extension requests to HHS and asked everyone to be sure to alert their staff that comments on the regulations must be submitted no later than April 4, 2005, to the Office of the General Counsel, Ethics Division, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 700-E, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20201, Attention: Linda L. Conte, or sent electronically to the following e-mail address: email@example.com. For e-mail messages, the subject line should include the following reference: "Comments on Interim Final HHS Supplemental Ethics Rule." Dr. Zerhouni noted that he needed data on and examples of how these regulations were affecting the NIH staff and how they were affecting the hiring of new staff or the departure of existing staff.
Dr. Spiegel inaugurated the new scientific presentation portion of regular IC Directors Meetings with "Nuclear Receptors Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." He traced classic nuclear receptor concepts from their beginnings in the 1930s through the efforts of Pierre Chambon, Ronald M. Evans, and Elwood V. Jenson that won them the 2004 Lasker Award for the discovery of the superfamily of nuclear hormone receptors and elucidation of a unifying mechanism that regulates embryonic development and diverse metabolic pathways. Citing the explosion of subsequent publications and research opportunities, he presented some of the most promising and referred the group to the Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) at www.nursa.org, a trans-NIH team science project comprising scientists from five institutions and representatives of NIDDK, NIA, and NCI. NURSA is designed to enhance our understanding of orphan nuclear receptors in particular and the nuclear receptor superfamily in general.
Dr. Spiegel's presentation was enthusiastically received by the group, and a lively discussion of opportunities ensued.
Before adjourning the meeting, Dr. Zerhouni welcomed Dr. David Abrams, who will be joining the NIH as the Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.
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