The NIDCR 2014-2019 Strategic Plan is now available online. The Plan outlines NIDCR's four key goals:
On September 15, the University of Florida announced that NIDCR Deputy Director Isabel Garcia, DDS, MPH, will become the permanent dean of the University of Florida College of Dentistry in February 2015. NIDCR Director Martha Somerman said, “It has truly been a joy to work with Dr. Garcia. She’s been indispensable in helping me guide the Institute, and I know her strategic thinking and exceptional leadership skills will serve her well in academia. We’ll miss her, but we know she’ll go on to accomplish great things for the University of Florida.”
After a national search, Lillian R. Shum, PhD, has been selected to be the director of NIDCR’s Division of Extramural Research (DER). Dr. Shum is an exceptional scientist administrator with broad knowledge and experience in dental, oral, and craniofacial sciences, and as the director of DER, she will provide leadership and guidance for the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of NIDCR’s investment in biomedical and behavioral sciences.
Penny Wung Burgoon, PhD, accepted a position at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), where she is now the director of the Office of Science Policy in the Office of Policy, Communications and Strategic Alliances. The Office of Science Policy analyzes issues related to translational science and works with stakeholders to develop and implement effective science policy solutions. The Office also is responsible for strategic planning, evaluation and legislative issues for NCATS. At NIDCR, she was the program director for the Salivary Biology and Immunology Program.
Amanda Melillo, PhD, was appointed the acting program director for NIDCR’s Salivary Biology and Immunology Program. Previously, she was a health specialist in the Integrative Biology and Infectious Diseases Branch. Before joining NIH, Dr. Melillo was a postdoctoral fellow from 2010-2012 at the Food and Drug Administration, Division of Bacterial Products, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, where she also served as a technology transfer coordinator assistant. She received her PhD in Microbial Disease in 2010 from Albany Medical College in Albany, New York.
On July 28, NIDCR’s Deputy Clinical Director Janice Lee, DDS, MD, MS, was named Editor-in-Chief of the new open-access journal Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Cases. The new Elsevier journal features oral and maxillofacial surgery case reports and case series that report new or modified methods and treatments, uncommon findings, and mechanisms.
Jay Chiorini, PhD, chief of NIDCR’s Adeno-Associated Virus Biology Section of the Molecular Physiology and Therapeutics Branch, is the Principal Investigator of an NIDCR-established Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Kadmon Corporation, LLC. The CRADA was established to develop an adeno-associated virus vector containing the human aquaporin-1 (AAV2hAQP1) gene for the treatment of dry mouth from radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Kadmon and NIDCR will conduct a Phase 1 study to test the safety of single escalating doses of AAV2hAQP1. Effectiveness, measured by an increase in parotid gland salivary output after radiation therapy, will also be tested for up to three years. In addition, NIDCR and Kadmon will explore the use of the salivary gland as a delivery mechanism for therapeutic proteins into the blood.
Three dental students were selected to take part in the 2014-2015 NIH Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) and will be conducting research in NIDCR's laboratories. The trainees are Mr. Peter Fung of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Ms. Molly Hague of the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry, and Ms. Jennie Leikin of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
The MRSP trains the most promising future dentists, physicians, and veterinarians in research methods. Scholars accepted into the MRSP are provided with a year-long, highly competitive research training experience that is designed to inspire research careers.
Two new residents have joined NIDCR's Residency Program in Dental Public Health for the 2014-2015 year. The Residency Program, located on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland, is a 12-month full-time ADA-accredited training program for dentists planning careers in dental public health, with an emphasis on oral and craniofacial health-related epidemiologic research.
On June 2, Marushka Silveira, BDS, MPH, PhD, joined the Residency Program. Dr. Silveira received her dental training at Dr. D.Y. Patil Dental College, Navi Mumbai in India and an MPH and PhD with Epidemiology focus from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her primary interest is the assessment of the role that psychosocial factors play in determining dental and craniofacial health.
On July 1, Sayo Adunola, DDS, MPH, began her residency. Dr. Adunola completed her dental training at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and earned an MPH from the Master of Public Health Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Her primary interests are oral health literacy and oral health care utilization.
Each year since 1995, NIH has honored outstanding scientific research conducted by intramural postdoctoral fellows with the Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE), and the winners receive a stipend to present their research at a scientific meeting. The 2015 FARE awardees at NIDCR are Dr. Patricia Forcinito of the Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Biology in Dr. Yoshihiko Yamada's group; Dr. Ramiro Iglesias-Bartolome of the of the Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch (OPCB) in Dr. Silvio Gutkind's group; and Dr. Imran Khan of OPCB in Dr. Praveen Arany's group. Next year, these three winners will serve as judges for the 2016 FARE competition. NIH's website has more information about the program.
NIDCR continues its commitment to understanding and eliminating the disproportionate burden of oral diseases suffered by U.S. children. Through a cooperative agreement funding mechanism, the Institute will support intervention studies as well as studies designed to rigorously evaluate the outcomes of existing programs or policies to assess their capacity to influence oral health disparities and inequalities in U.S. children younger than 21 years of age.
Applications for "Multidisciplinary and Collaborative Research Consortium to Reduce Oral Health Disparities in Children: A Multilevel Approach (RFA-DE-15-006)" are due on December 9, 2014 (AIDS applications are due on February 27, 2015). About 8 awards are expected. In addition, a data coordinating center (RFA-DE-15-007) will be funded to support and coordinate activities of the individual projects that together form the Consortium.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs stimulate technological innovations to invest federal research funds in priority areas. Earlier this summer, NIDCR asked entrepreneurs, the small business community, dentists and other health care professionals, dental product distributors, and others to provide suggestions for removing barriers to development and commercialization of new products (NOT-DE-14-006). We also asked small business applicants to describe the barriers they face when applying for SBIR/STTR grants. NIDCR appreciates the many comments and suggestions we received for ways to stimulate interest in our small business research program and to build and maintain partnerships.
On September 17, the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council reviewed and approved new research concepts proposed by NIDCR as part of the budget planning process for Fiscal Year 2016. The following concepts, which will be integrated into the overall NIDCR research portfolio as they are considered for funding, were approved:
Concepts represent early planning stages for initiatives in which NIDCR seeks to support research in an understudied and significant area of science. Approval by the Council does not guarantee that a concept will become a program announcement, request for applications, or request for proposals. Instead, NIDCR will base this determination on scientific and programmatic priorities balanced with the amount of funds available.
On September 7 to 9 in Bethesda, Maryland, scientists, clinicians, and patients took part in the Seventh Scientific Meeting of The TMJ Association— “Genetic and Epigenetic Basis of Temporomandibular Disorders and Related Chronic Overlapping Conditions.” The meeting, which was cosponsored by NIDCR, explored the molecular and genomic basis of temporomandibular disorders and related chronic pain disorders.
NIDCR-funded FaceBase 2, which is the second iteration of the Consortium established in 2009 to advance craniofacial research, held an organizational meeting in August. The Consortium links individual spoke projects that contribute comprehensive datasets, analytical tools, and other resources to a central data management and integration hub, and the hub disseminates the resources to the craniofacial research community through the FaceBase website. The University of Southern California is the new host of the website (www.facebase.org) and transition of the website is in progress.
In June 2014, Sylvia Mathews Burwell was sworn in as the Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS). Before joining HHS, she was director of the Office of Management and Budget, and before joining the federal government, Secretary Burwell gained vast experience in private industry. She was president of the Walmart Foundation, overseeing more than $1 billion in contributions around the world. She was also the president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Secretary Burwell received an A.B. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
After a 19-year career at NIH, Story Landis, PhD, who has been the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) since 2003, is retiring. As director, she manages a $1.5 billion research portfolio, and throughout her career, she has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of nervous system development and received many honors. NIH Director Francis Collins said, “We have had a superstar among us, and she will be sorely missed.” After Dr. Landis retires, NINDS Deputy Director Walter Koroshetz, MD, will serve as Acting Director.
Although Congress has not yet appropriated funding for Fiscal Year 2015, President Barack signed stopgap spending legislation to keep the federal government funded under a continuing resolution through December 11. When the new fiscal year begins on October 1, the government will be funded for 10 weeks at FY 2014 appropriations levels.
NIH has changed the policy for resubmission of grant applications. After an unsuccessful resubmission of a grant application, a researcher can submit the unsuccessful resubmission in a new grant application without substantial changes to project scope or content.
Because NIH is committed to responsible data stewardship and the protection of research participant privacy and confidentiality, NIH issued the Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy, which replaces the more limited NIH Genome-Wide Association Studies data sharing policy. Starting with funding applications submitted for a January 25, 2015, receipt date, the GDS Policy will apply to all NIH-funded, large-scale human and non-human projects that generate genomic data.
NIH aims to promote data sharing as a way to speed the translation of data into knowledge, products, and procedures that improve health while protecting the privacy of research participants. The GDS Policy describes the responsibilities of investigators and institutions for the submission of genomic data to data repositories, secondary research use of such data, and expectations regarding intellectual property. The final GDS Policy was posted in the Federal Register on August 26 and published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on August 27.
In May, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, and NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health Director Janine A. Clayton, MD, announced that NIH is developing policies to require preclinical research grant applicants to report study designs that account for a balance of male and female cells or animals. Historically, researchers have used mainly male animals and ignored the sex of the cells used in experiments. With the policies now being developed, NIH will be asking scientists to include in their study design a way to compare experimental effects on males and females. Current grants are not affected, and in October, NIH will issue more information about the phased strategy of adopting the new policies.
To help grow the knowledge base regarding the effects of sex/gender, NIH started providing supplemental funding to grantees last year. On September 23, NIH reported that an additional $10.1 million will be invested in supplemental funding to bolster the research of 82 grantees to explore the effects of sex in preclinical and clinical studies.
NIH is piloting programs that award grants with longer terms to provide investigators with more stable support. Applications for these awards do not require descriptions of specific aims articulated in the traditional format. Instead, investigators describe their research plans and demonstrate how they will leverage and translate prior accomplishments into approaches that will shape future research.
The programs are intended for investigators from a range of career stages, backgrounds, and disciplines. Currently, the NIH Common Fund supports the NIH Pioneer Award to support individual investigators who propose pioneering approaches to major research challenges. In addition, the National Cancer Institute announced in June 2014 a new Outstanding Investigator Award that will provide long-term support to investigators who have extraordinary records of cancer research productivity and who propose to conduct exceptional research.
Three-dimensional (3D) printing—the creation of a physical object from a digital model—is being applied to health and science research. In June 2014, NIH announced the launch of a public website (http://3dprint.nih.gov/) for visitors to share, download, and edit 3D images related to health and science. The 3D Print Exchange makes files freely available, along with video tutorials for new users and a discussion forum to promote collaborations. The site features tools that convert scientific and clinical data into ready-to-print 3D files.
The National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program has been adapted for the life sciences and is now being offered to small businesses at NIH through a team training pilot program known as I-Corps at NIH. Each year, NIH awards more than $700 million in SBIR/STTR research and development awards, and starting this summer, selected small businesses can take part in the I-CORPS pilot program.
The I-CORPS curriculum enables NIH-funded small businesses to learn how to develop scalable business models for commercially viable technologies related to disease detection and treatment, how to protect intellectual property, and how to develop regulatory and reimbursement strategies. The National Cancer Institute; National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke are taking part in the pilot program.
NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, accepted recommendations in June 2014 for the 12-year scientific vision, budget, and timeline of the Brain Initiative. The NIH efforts on the BRAIN Initiative will seek to map the circuits of the brain, measure the fluctuating patterns of electrical and chemical activity flowing within those circuits, and understand how their interplay creates our unique cognitive and behavioral capabilities.
Previously, NIH announced an investment of $40 million in fiscal year 2014, and President Obama made a request for $100 million for NIH's component of the initiative in fiscal year 2015. The investment in the BRAIN Initiative would increase to $400 million per year for fiscal years 2016-2020 and would increase to $500 million per year for years 2020-2025.
"While these estimates are provisional and subject to congressional appropriations, they represent a realistic estimate of what will be required for this moon shot initiative," said Dr. Collins. "As the Human Genome Project did with precision medicine, the BRAIN Initiative promises to transform the way we prevent and treat devastating brain diseases and disorders while also spurring economic development."
In July, NIH leaders announced a new NIH Common Fund three-year pilot project to explore poorly understood genes that have the potential to be modified by medicines. The Illuminating the Druggable Genome program will support research of understudied genes in four important druggable gene families: nuclear receptors, ion channels, protein kinases, and G-protein coupled receptors. For the initial phase of the program, NIH awarded $5.8 million to eight institutions.
In addition to funding from the NIH Common Fund, support comes from other NIH components, including the National Cancer Institute; National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; National Institute of Mental Health; and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
In August, eight grants were awarded as part of the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project at NIH. GTEx is characterizing gene activity in tissues to create an atlas of human gene expression. The researchers are expanding a resource database and tissue bank that is used to study how inherited genomic variants may influence gene activity and lead to certain diseases. The eight research groups could receive as much as $15 million over three years. The project is funded by the NIH Common Fund; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and National Institute of Mental Health.
On September 24, C-SPAN Washington Journal visited the NIH campus in Bethesda a third time to speak with NIH leadership about medical research. Videos of these interviews are archived on the NIH website.
NIH would like to spur advances in cellular analysis so that better diagnostic and therapeutic methods can be developed. Science innovators have an opportunity to compete for prizes totaling up to $500,000 by developing new ways to track the health status of a single cell in complex tissue. The NIH Follow that Cell Challenge could generate creative methods for following and predicting a single cell’s behavior and function over time in a complex multicellular environment. The challenge is issued under America COMPETES, by the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, on behalf of the NIH Common Fund’s Single Cell Analysis Program.
Scientists discover why children with a rare primary immune deficiency condition are predisposed to an extremely aggressive form of periodontitis.
In two recently published articles, NIDCR-supported scientists reveal details about mechanisms that may increase the ability of the Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus to cause oral Kaposi's sarcoma.
NIDCR researchers are first to demonstrate that TGF-beta has a central role in regulatory T cell generation in the thymus.