National Institutes of Health Seeks Public Input on New Strategic Plan

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Publication date: 
28 July 2015

Public comment on a new five-year Strategic Plan for the National Institutes of Health is being accepted through August 16th.  The Request for Information announcing this opportunity explains “The goal of this larger NIH-wide strategic plan is not to outline the myriad of important research opportunities for specific disease applications . . . , but to highlight major trans-NIH themes.”

NIH has 27 Institutes, Centers and Offices, including the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (see FYI #88.) The Plan, according to an NIH official, is intended to identify “areas of opportunity across all biomedicine” and to develop “unifying principles to guide NIH’s support of the biomedical research enterprise.”  NIH is required to submit this Plan to Congress by late December 2015. 

NIH issued the three-page Request for Information last week.  It presents the three main components of a Framework for the Strategic Plan.  Following an Overview, the Framework’s second component is entitled Areas of Opportunity that Apply Across Biomedicine.  They are:

“Promote Fundamental Science
◦Basic Science is the foundation for progress
◦Consequences of basic science discoveries are often unpredictable
◦Advances in clinical research methodologies stimulate scientific progress
◦Leaps in Technology often catalyze major scientific advances
◦Data science increases the impact and efficiency of research

“Improve Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
◦Importance of studying healthy individuals
◦Advances in early diagnosis/detection
◦Evidence-Based interventions to eliminate health disparities

“Advance Treatments and Cures 
◦Unprecedented opportunities on the basis of molecular knowledge
◦Breakdown of traditional disease boundaries
◦Breakthroughs need partnerships and often come from unexpected directions”

The third component is entitled Unifying Principles.  They are:

“Set NIH Priorities – NIH sets priorities by incorporating measures of disease burden, understanding the need to foster scientific opportunity through nimble and adaptable methods,  supporting opportunities presented by rare disease research, and considering the value of permanently eradicating a pandemic

“Enhance Stewardship – NIH enhances stewardship of the research enterprise by recruiting and retaining an outstanding biomedical research workforce, enhancing workforce diversity, encouraging innovation, optimizing approaches to guide  how decisions are made, enhancing partnerships, promoting scientific rigor and reproducibility, reducing administrative burden, and employing risk management strategies in decision-making.”    

NIH invites comments of up to 300 words via a web-based form on the following questions:

  • “Potential benefits, drawbacks/challenges, and areas of consideration for the current framework
  • Compatibility of the framework with the broad scope of the NIH mission
  • Additional concepts in ICO [Institutes, Centers, and Offices] strategic plans that are cross-cutting and should be included in this trans-NIH strategic plan
  • Comprehensive trans-NIH research themes that have not been captured in the Areas of Opportunity that Apply Across Biomedicine
  • Components of the Areas of Opportunity that Apply Across Biomedicine that are not applicable to an NIH-wide Strategic Plan
  • Future opportunities or emerging research needs”

 Comments must be received by August 16, 2015.