NIDDK Director's Update (March 9, 2006) : NIDDK

NIDDK Director's Update (March 9, 2006)

A periodic electronic newsletter to bring you updates on NIH and NIDDK activities

Departure of Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., NIDDK Director

The Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Dr. Allen M. Spiegel has accepted the position of dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of the Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York.  His appointment as dean-designate will be effective on  Monday, March 6, 2006, following his departure from NIH on Friday, March 3, 2006.  He will assume the dean position on June 1, 2006.

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., has appointed Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., as acting director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) effective March 3, 2006.  Dr. Rodgers has been NIDDK deputy director since 2001 while continuing in his role as chief of the Molecular and Clinical Hematology Branch in the Institute.  He has been with the NIH since arriving in 1982 as a National Research Service Award Fellow. 

President's Budget 2007

The NIH would receive $28.587 billion, equivalent to the FY 2006 program level, according to President Bush's proposed federal budget for FY 2007, submitted to Congress on February 6.  The NIDDK would receive $1.844 billion, $11 million less than the FY 2006 appropriation.  In addition, in FY 2007 NIDDK will receive $150 million for the Type 1 Diabetes Initiative appropriated by Public Law 107-360.

More information is available from the February 6, 2006, National Institutes of Health Summary of the FY 2007 President's Budget:

BRDPI Update

The NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives has revised the estimated value of the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI) for FY 2005 from 4 to 5.5 percent.  The office alerted the public of the revision in a memo dated February 14, 2006.  The original estimate of 4 percent was released in a memo dated January 24, 2006.  The NIH has also revised the projected future year values of the BRDPI and estimates increases of 4.1 percent for FY 2006; 3.8 percent for FY 2007 and FY 2008; 3.7 percent for each year from 2009 to 2011; and 3.8 percent for each year from 2012 through 2016.  The new estimates represent an upward adjustment of 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points in estimated annual growth for each year compared to earlier projections.

More information is available on the NIH Office of Budget Price Indexes web page:

NIH OPASI Established

In the September 28, 2005 Federal Register, NIH Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., announced the establishment of the Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI) in the NIH Office of the Director.  The purpose of OPASI will be to identify and integrate information to support the planning and implementation of trans-NIH initiatives.  OPASI will consist of three branches:  the Division of Resource Development and Analysis; the Division of Strategic Coordination; and the Division of Evaluation and Systematic Assessments.  According to the National Institutes of Health Summary of the FY 2007 President's Budget, OPASI “will develop methods to assist the agency in assessing its large and complex portfolio, coordinate trans-NIH evaluation efforts, and provide a transparent process for identifying important scientific initiatives that cut across or fall between the missions of institutes and centers.  Selected initiatives will be supported through a Common Fund that will build on the funding base of the NIH Roadmap.”  The NIH will establish an OPASI website, which will contain frequently asked questions and updated information on OPASI.

NIH Pathway to Independence Award program:

A new award program has been designed to assist new investigators to move from research dependence in a mentored setting to research independence as an assistant professor or equivalent position.  The NIH Pathway to Independence Award program, announced January 27, builds upon a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the 2005 “Bridges to Independence ” report.  The report recommended that NIH develop new ways to mentor and support early career scientists as they transition from post-doctoral work to independent investigator-initiated research.  With a launch scheduled for Fall 2006, NIH plans to issue 150 to 200 awards in the first year, followed by about the same number of awards per year for five years.  All NIH Institutes and Centers will participate in the award program.

More information is available on the New Investigators Program web page:

Information on the NAS report, Bridges to Independence, is available on the NAS website:

NIH Launches Two New Initiatives on Genes and the Environment:

The NIH announced the creation of two new initiatives on February 8 to accelerate understanding of how genes and the environment interact to cause diseases.  The Genes and Environment Initiative (GEI) is a trans-NIH effort to combine genetic analysis techniques with environmental technology development to increase understanding of common diseases.  GEI will support genetic analysis, also called genotyping, studies and will have two components:  a laboratory procedure for efficiently analyzing genetic variation in groups of patients with specific illnesses and a technology development program to devise new ways of monitoring personal environmental exposures that interact with genetic variations and result in human disease.  The second initiative is called the Genetic Association Information Network (GAIN) and supports a public-private partnership between the NIH, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), and major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.  The GAIN partnership will be managed by the FNIH.

More information is available on the NIH News Page:

NIH CTSA Program Launch

On October 12, 2005 NIH Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., announced the launch of the Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, an NIH Roadmap for Medical Research initiative administered by the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the NIH.  The CTSA program will address the need for better integrated and focused clinical and translational research support for NIH grantee institutions.  The program will encourage institutions to propose new approaches to clinical and translational research, including new organizational models and training programs at graduate and post-graduate levels.  NIH released a Request for Applications (RFA) for the new program with a submission deadline of March 27, 2006.  The RFA is available on the NCRR website:    

More information is available on the NIH News Page:

NIH Electronic Grant Submission Update

A delay in the transition of the NIH traditional research grant (R01) mechanism from October 2006 to February 2007 will allow an additional four months (one submission round) before implementation of the new electronic system, according to a notice published in the February 7 NIH Guide to Grants.  The transition of the NIH U01 Research Cooperative Agreement mechanism will also be delayed one submission round and will transition with other complex research mechanisms in October 2007.  These notices follow the August 2005 announcement of NIH plans to transition to electronic submission of grant applications via

More information is available on NIH Office of Extramural Research Electronic Submission of Grant Applications web page:

NIDDK's U.S. Renal Data System (USRDS) Update

According to recent USRDS research, rates for new cases of kidney failure have stabilized, but dramatic racial disparities persist.  In 2003, the rate for new cases of kidney failure was 338 per million population, continuing a four-year trend.  The average annual increase has been less than 1 percent since 1999, compared to an average 5 percent a year in the previous decade.  The most striking trends were in diabetes, where rates for new cases in whites under age 40 were the lowest since the late 1980's, in stark contrast to rates for African American counterparts, which have not changed.  The USRDS research was presented in November 2005 at the annual scientific meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in Philadelphia. 

More information is available on the NIH News Page:

Type 1 Diabetes research findings published

Intensive glucose control lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke by about 50 percent in people with type 1 diabetes, according to findings from the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) study, a follow-up study of patients who took part more than a decade ago in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT).  The DCCT results, announced in 1993, showed that intensive glucose control prevents or delays the eye, nerve, and kidney complications of type 1 diabetes.  The latest EDIC results, reported in the December 22, 2005 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that tight glucose control lowered the risk of a cardiovascular disease event by 42 percent and the risk of a serious event, including heart attack or stroke, by 58 percent.

More information is available on the NIH News Page:

NIDDK and PKD Foundation Launch HALT-PKD treatment trials

The Halt Progression of Polycystic Kidney Disease (HALT-PKD) network, a consortium of centers supported by the NIDDK and the PKD Foundation, has launched two treatment trials for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), a common inherited disorder characterized by cysts in the kidneys and other organs, high blood pressure, and aneurysms in the brain.  HALT-PKD will compare standard therapy (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor) to intensive therapy (both an ACE-inhibitor and an angiotensin receptor blocker) in more than 1,000 people with ADPKD at centers in Atlanta; Boston; Cleveland; Denver; Kansas City, Kansas; and Rochester, Minnesota.

More information is available on the NIH News Page:

NASH Clinical Research Network Launches Trial for Treatment of Liver Disease in Children

The Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Clinical Research Network has launched its second clinical trial to study NASH, a liver disease that resembles alcoholic liver disease but occurs in patients who drink little or no alcohol. The first trial, launched in January of this year, focuses on adults, while the second trial studies the disease in children.  The Treatment of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in Children (TONIC) trial will enroll 180 boys and girls, ages 8-15 years with NAFLD. The participants will receive vitamin E, or metformin (an insulin-sensitizing drug), or placebo over 2 years. 

More information is available on the NIH News Page:

Lawrence Y.C. Agodoa, M.D., Honored by HHS Office of Minority Health

Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, director of NIDDK's Office of Minority Health Research Coordination, received a Director's Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Minority Health for dedicated leadership in advancing improvements in minority health and for inspiring other government employees to work collaboratively and with singular purpose to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities.  Dr. Allen Spiegel presented the award to Dr. Agodoa on January 10, 2006, at the National Building Museum in Washington , D.C., during an event commemorating the office's 20 th anniversary.

More information is available on the HHS Office of Minority Health website:

Leonard B. Seeff, M.D., Receives Distinguished Service Award from AASLD

Dr. Leonard B. Seeff, special expert and adviser in liver disease at the NIDDK, received the 2005 Distinguished Service Award from the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) for his long-standing contributions to liver disease research and his service to the AASLD.  Since joining the NIDDK in 1998, Dr. Seeff has helped to coordinate and supervise multi-center clinical studies on hepatitis C, nonalcoholic hepatitis, and liver transplantation.  He facilitated the development of the first trans-NIH Action Plan for Liver Disease Research in 2004 and has been a leader for trans-NIH initiatives on hepatocellular carcinoma and drug-induced liver disease. 

More information is available on the NIH Record web page:

New NIDDK Staff Appointments:

NIDDK welcomes several new members to the staff.  Rachel Fisher, M.S., M.P.H., joins the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, NIDDK, as a nutrition program analyst.  Elizabeth Wright, Ph.D., joins the Office of the Director, NIDDK, as a senior scientific advisor and program director for Biostatistics.  Chad Wysong joins the Office of Budget in the Office of the Director, NIDDK, as the deputy budget officer.  In addition, Ms. Christina Espinoza, J.D., has been designated the NIDDK Ethics Coordinator in the NIDDK Office of the Director.

I look forward to continued interaction with those of you who have an interest in the programs of NIDDK.  Comments about this electronic newsletter can be directed to Betsy Singer, public liaison officer for NIDDK at

Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., Acting Director


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