Public Affairs

Greenberg Named NIGMS Acting Director

Judith H. Greenberg assumed the role of acting director of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of General Medical
Sciences (NIGMS) in early July. She will hold the post while the search continues for a permanent director.
 
Greenberg will oversee the Institute’s $2 billion budget, which primarily funds basic research in the areas of cell biology, biophysics, genetics,
developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics, and computational biology. NIGMS supports more
than 4,500 research grants—about 10% of the grants funded by NIH as a whole—as well as a substantial amount of research training and programs designed to increase the diversity of the biomedical and behavioral research workforce. “I look forward to continuing our efforts to
capitalize on exciting scientific opportunities, get input on and respond to the needs of the research community, and build in other ways on
the considerable progress we’ve made during Dr. Berg’s tenure,” Greenberg said in a press release.
 
“In the months ahead, we will also be focusing on implementing our new strategic plan for research training. And we very much look forward to a major milestone in 2012, when NIGMS marks its 50th anniversary,” she added.
 
A developmental biologist by training, Greenberg has directed the NIGMS Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology since 1988. She served as NIGMS acting director from May 2002 to November 2003. Greenberg earned a PhD in developmental biology from Bryn Mawr
College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
 

BPS Suggests NIBIB Not Lose Sight of Basic Research

In May, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at NIH released a draft strategic plan outlining its priorities
for the next five years and asking for input for the community. The Biophysical Society’s (BPS) Public Affairs Committee prepared and
submitted comments on behalf of the Society’s membership.
 
The plan outlined five major goals for NIBIB through 2016:
 
1. Improve human health through the development of emerging biomedical technologies at the interface of engineering and the
physical and life sciences;
 
2. Enable patient-centered health care through development of health informatics and mobile and point-of-care technologies;
 
3. Transform advances in medicine at the molecular and cellular level into therapeutic and diagnostic technologies that target an individual’s personal state of health; 
 
4. Develop medical technologies that are low-cost, effective, and accessible to everyone; and
 
5. Develop training programs to prepare a new generation of interdisciplinary engineers, scientists, and health care providers.
 

In its comments, BPS complimented the inclusion of interdisciplinary science as a main goal for NIBIB. The report correctly points out that many of most important advances in basic research and medical care have come from this interface. However, the Committee challenged NIBIB not to lose sight of basic biomedical research in its clinical research, pointing out that the interface of the physical sciences and engineering with biomedical researchers studying fundamental issues was a key component of past clinical breakthroughs, such as the development of magnetic resonance imaging and drugs designed based on high-resolution crystal structures determined with synchrotron generated x-rays.

NIBIB will review all of the submitted the comments and issue a final report in the next few months.

To read the strategic plan in its entirety, go to http://www.nibib.nih.gov/About/StrategicPlan.
 
To read the Society’s comments, go to www.biophysics.org/tabid/2243/Default.aspx.
 

NSF Releases Strategic Plan

This spring, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a new five-year strategic plan Empowering the Nation Through Discovery and
Innovation: NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2011–2016, which will guide the agency’s investments for the next five years. The plan outlines three goals that aim to transform scientific frontiers, innovate for society, and achieve operational excellence at the agency. This includes investing in potentially transformative research, emphasizing interdisciplinary approaches to research, and improving the ability of the merit review process to identify this type of research.
 
The report can be read in its entirety at http://www.nsf.gov/news/strategicplan/nsfstrategicplan_2011_2016.pdf.