NIH revises review schedule

Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, announced Tuesday evening that NIH is revising its schedule for cancelled peer review meetings. Initial plans would have resulted in many applications being bumped from January to May Council sessions caused concern with many PIs, especially those with no other support. NIH heard the community’s concerns and has revised its plans.  Writing in her blog, Dr. Rockey said, “Today my office issued a new NIH Guide notice, announcing that most review meetings originally scheduled during October will be quickly re-scheduled to enable applications to be considered at January council. [Tuesday’s] Guide notice supersedes the guidance from last week. While we’re going to do everything we can to review of all the applications, scheduling complexities may mean that it will be necessary to reassign some small number of applications to May council. The Guide notice provides additional details about how and when those reassigned applications can be ‘refreshed.’ The rescheduled October receipt dates have not changed and are described again in the new notice. November deadlines still stand. Progress report due dates that were due in October were extended to November 4.”

The NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) on Tuesday announced awards of more than $79 million in fiscal year 2013 funding to support 15 Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). The 2013 awards expand consortium representation to New Hampshire with an award to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, extending the network to 31 states and the District of Columbia.  The awards are for five years.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Monday announced the names of 70 new members and 10 foreign associates during its 43rd annual meeting. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

The first in a collection of free educational tutorials to help students prepare for the revised Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are now available. The revised MCAT will be administered in 2015. The tutorials (including videos and questions) were developed by winners of a video competition sponsored by the AAMC, Khan Academy and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Lessons will be available through Khan’s online learning library, as well as the Pre-health Collection of the AAMC’s MedEdPORTAL iCollaborative. Currently, the growing collection has 24 tutorials (each tutorial includes 4-8 videos and questions) to help undergraduate and pre-med students prepare for health care professions. The content creators and reviewers will expand the collection throughout the year, which  is expected to include approximately 500 videos and an estimated 1,000 questions by the fall of 2014.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has created a new Undiagnosed Diseases Program that will tackle cases where a diagnosis has not been made despite extensive efforts by the referring physician.  It is modelled on a similar program at the NIH.  Bruce R. Korf, M.D., professor and chair of the UAB Department of Genetics will serve as director of the UDP.  The UDP team, led by Dr. Korf, Maria Descartes, M.D., professor of genetics, and Gustavo Heudebert, M.D., professor of internal medicine, includes a designated certified genetic counsellor and a clinical nurse coordinator. Physicians from various subspecialties, in such areas as radiology, rheumatology and neurology, will serve as consultants and provide their expertise as needed.

D. Gary Gilliland, MD, PhD, has been named the inaugural Vice Dean and Vice President for Precision Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a newly created position. Dr. Gilliland, a cancer geneticist. “…will synthesize Penn Medicine’s research and clinical care initiatives across all disciplines to create a national model for the delivery of precise, personalized medicine to patients with diseases of all kinds.” Dr. Gilliland joins Penn Medicine from Merck, where he has been Senior Vice President of Merck Research Laboratories and Oncology Franchise Head.  He earlier had been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.

At the upcoming AAMC Annual Meeting, the Group on Institutional Affairs is sponsoring an interesting session for faculty - helping them to communicate about their research or clinical efforts in a concise and effective way, particularly to donors, funders, or other important stakeholders. The first half of the session will be in an interactive instructional format. The second half will be role-playing in a cocktail party environment.  The session is titled, “Selling Your Dream to Donors and Funders: A Cocktail Party,” and will be held Monday, November 4. 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM, in the Philadelphia Marriott-Grand G.

The Tennessean newspaper on Sunday featured a lengthy story on how Nashville hospitals are adapting to a new model of healthcare that rewards value over volume.

On October 17, our colleagues at the American Public Health Association (APHA) hosted a briefing on U.S. efforts to ratify the disabilities treaty, the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). A new round of Senate hearings on the treaty will begin shortly.  An earlier effort to bring the treaty before the Senate was blocked.  The State Department has issued a fact sheet dispelling some myths advanced by opponents to the treaty.  The physical medicine and rehabilitation community has been strongly supporting ratification of the treaty.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is creating a National Sleep Research Resource (NSRR), a comprehensive, easily accessible and well-annotated national repository of sleep data. The 5-year award to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine will make data from more than 50,000 sleep studies available to sleep researchers across the country.

Applications are now being accepted for the Spring 2014 Duke Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Leadership Program (MHS-CL).  This multi-disciplinary part-time degree program is designed specifically for clinicians.

The second annual SINAInnovations conference at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will be streamed live. “The Power of Team Science” is the theme for this year’s program, scheduled for Nov. 18-19, 2013. Keynote speakers include Nirav R. Shah, Commissioner of Health, New York State; Joe Torre, Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations, Major League Baseball; and Rear Admiral Scott P. Moore, Deputy Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, US Navy. The event is free and open to faculty and trainees from academic medical centers and biomedical industry professionals.

Congressman C.W. Bill Young died last week.  He was a sitting member of Congress and the former chair of the House Appropriations Committee. A building on the NIH campus was named after him in 2006 (the CW Bill Young Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases), in recognition of his strong support for biomedical research.  Congressman Young was also a strong supporter of the University of South Florida throughout his 43-year tenure in Congress.  He was the longest serving Republican in Congress when he died.

And finally… Dr. John V. Lombardi, in a recent essay posted by Inside Higher Ed, addressed issues related to big time college football.  Dr. Lombardi wrote, “Boxed in by our definition of amateur student-athlete, we have found it difficult to construct imaginative ways of reflecting market circumstances that affect the players.” Dr. Lombardi continued, “Fortunately, universities have mechanisms for dealing with similar issues that might be adapted to meet the needs of the football enterprise. Think, for a minute, about the university medical center hospital…”  He goes on to consider how the university-medical center and university-physician relationships might inform efforts to reform college football.  Dr. Lombardi is the former president of the University of Florida and the Louisiana State University System, as well as the former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Tony Mazzaschi

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PPS: Registration is now open for the 2013 AAMC Annual Meeting, November 1-6, in Philadelphia.