The most pressing task for the new Administration, according to a recently released report, is to appoint a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) director – someone who is familiar with the agency, well-respected in their field, “wise and bold.” The report, A Vision and Pathway for NIH, was prepared by leading scientists and policy experts for the transition team of President-elect Donald Trump to further advance the nation’s leading biomedical research and health agency. The goal is to ensure NIH remains globally competitive, strengthening the agency’s impact on research, training and health outcomes.
The report was written by an ad hoc working group led by Research!America board member Keith Yamamoto, Ph.D., vice chancellor for science policy and strategy; director, UCSF precision medicine; vice dean for research, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, and former federal agency officials including NIH directors Harold Varmus, M.D., Lewis Thomas University professor, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Elias Zerhouni, M.D., president, Global Research & Development, Sanofi, and Research!America board member. Mary Woolley, president & CEO of Research!America, was among the working group advisors.
“We really wanted to stay clear of the open-hand message that just says, ‘If you give us more money we'll do better,” said Yamamoto in an interview with Science magazine. “We tried to make recommendations that would be actionable without more money.” Yamamoto hopes there's an opportunity to remind the Trump Administration and Congress that NIH funding supports robust local economies in almost every state across the U.S.
Recommendations also include broadening the expertise of peer review panels so they can better assess transdisciplinary research, and a grant program to support NIH’s in-house scientists when they move into academia, which would support young investigators. The report outlines tasks to accomplish in the first 100 days such as convening a Strength in Science Taskforce, and inviting NIH to prepare and submit a rolling five-year professional judgment budget to Congress. For the full report, visit www.nihvp.org.