Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sustaining Biomedical Research

NIH wants to launch several initiatives to help strengthen the biomedical research enterprise well into the future. The field is faced with significant challenges affecting not only the future biomedical research workforce but also how to store and use large biomedical datasets.

NIH Director Francis S. Collins M.D., PhD charged the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) to develop recommendations to meet the future challenges. The ACD presented their recommendations to the NIH Director in June 2012 and the implementation plan was presented at the ACD meeting December 6 and 7, 2012.

One of the recommendations for dealing with big data and informatics would be to develop a new “Big Data to Knowledge “(BD2K) initiative. This initiative would create data and software sharing policies, develop catalogs of research data, and develop data/metadata standards.

The initiative would also provide training to handle biomedical big data and would initiate new centers of excellence. Another goal would be to launch the “NIH InfrastructurePlus” an adaptive environment to advance high performance computing, develop agile hosting and storage approaches, and modernize the network.

Several other initiatives are being considered to deal with further developing the biomedical research workforce. One of the ideas is to start a new NIH program called “Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity” (BUILD) to provide mentored research experiences to undergraduates at participating schools.

Another initiative would establish a “National Research Mentoring Network” to connect students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculties with experienced mentors, develop standards for good mentorship, and provide workshops and training in grantsmanship.

Also, financial assistance would be provided to support biomedical research careers, support for training mentors, and assistance would be provided to develop new approaches to increase diversity in the PhD training pathway.

NIH is also exploring support for training mechanisms designed to accelerate the development of independent research careers that would include “NIH Pathway to Independence” and “Early Independence” awards.