Public Affairs

NSF Director and NIH Deputy Director Stepping Down

Arden L. Bement, the director of the National Science Foundation, has been named to lead Purdue University’s new Global Policy Research Institute (GPRI) in West Lafayette, Indiana. Bement will begin his new post as the director of GPRI, which will draw on seven different science and research disciplines at Purdue, on June 1 this year. Bement was appointed to his six-year term as director by President Bush in November 2004. He served as acting director for ten months prior to this.  From 1989 to 1995, Bement also served on the National Science Board, the 24-member policy body for NSF and adviser to the president and Congress on science and engineering issues.

Raynard Kington has announced that he is leaving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to accept a position as President of Grinell College.  Kington joined the NIH in 2000 as Director of the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and then served as Acting Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Since February 2003, he has served as the Principal Deputy Director of the NIH. From November 2008 until Frances Collin’s arrival in August, he served as Acting NIH Director.  As Acting NIH Director, Kington led the effort to allocate $10.4 billion of Recovery Act money quickly and wisely, and implemented President Obama’s Executive Order on human embryonic stem cell research. He also played a key role in the adoption of new ethics standards at the NIH.

Successors for Bement and Kington had not been named as off press time.  

NIGMS Training and Career Development Planning

NIGMS has a long-standing commitment to research training and biomedical workforce development. To ensure that the NIGMS training activities can most effectively meet the current needs and emerging opportunities to contribute to building a highly capable, diverse biomedical research workforce, the Institute is examining its existing activities in this area.  

As part of the process, NIGMS is soliciting input from the community, including university and college faculty members and administrators, current and former predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees, industry representatives, representatives of professional and scientific organizations, and other interested parties.  There are two remaining regional stakeholder meetings where you can share your input. The meetings are May 25 in Chicago and June 4 in Atlanta. Registration is required and is available at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/StrategicPlan/.

In addition, NIGMS is inviting trainees to share their perspectives by joining a Web discussion on Friday, June 11 from 1:00-4:00 pm EST. To register to participate in the discussion, visit http://meetings.nigms.nih.gov/meetings/training_webinar/.

NIH/FDA Partnership

NIH and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new partnership in March with the goal of developing more life-saving treatments and getting them to Americans faster.  The purpose of the partnership is ensure that NIH researchers are sharing information about research on emerging technologies like cell-based and targeted small molecule therapies with scientists at FDA so that FDA scientists can start developing standards for safety and effectiveness.  In return, FDA scientists can help inform the NIH’s research by identifying important issues in safety or quality that can be addressed early in the development of new treatments.

To facilitate the partnership, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created a Joint NIH-FDA Leadership Council that will be co-chaired by NIH Director Francis Collins and FDA Commissioner, Hamburg, to oversee work between the agencies on a wide range of issues and make it easier than ever for them to find new areas for cooperation.  HHS is also making $6.75 million in grants available over the next three years for research on regulatory science, which is the science of how to best assess the risks and benefits associated with certain treatments.

New ERC President Elected

In February, the European Research Council (ERC) Scientific Council unanimously elected Helga Nowotny, an Austrian social scientist, as the new ERC President and chair of the Scientific Council. Nowotny is currently the ERC’s Vice-President and vice-chair of its Scientific Council. She took office on March 1.  The election followed the resignation of the first ERC President Kafatos in January.  At the time of the appointment, Nowotny commented “I will pursue with vigour and endurance our common endeavour to make frontier research the dynamic element in confronting the challenges ahead.”

The European Research Council was created in 2007 to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by supporting and encouraging the best creative scientists, scholars and engineers of any nationality in any field of research, to work in European host institutions. The ERC has supported up to more than 900 research projects and has a total budget of €7.5 billion (2007-2013).

May 2010 Table of Contents