Date: May 23, 2011
Place: Building 31
Conference Room 10
National Institutes of Health
The 197th meeting of the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council (NADCRC) was convened on May 23, 2011, at 8:30 a.m., in Building 31, Conference Room 10, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland. The meeting was open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.; it was followed by the closed session for Council business and consideration of grant applications from 12:45 p.m. until adjournment at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Isabel Garcia presided as Chair.
Dr. Carole A. Anderson
Dr. Pamela Den Besten (ad hoc)
Dr. Anna I. Dongari-Bagtzoglou
Dr. Rena N. D’Souza
Dr. David Chris Johnsen
Dr. Jeffrey A. Kaufman
Dr. KyungMann Kim
Dr. Michael T. Longaker
Dr. Steve Martino
Dr. Laurie K. McCauley
Dr. Harold Morris (ex officio)
Dr. Kraig S. Vandewalle (ex officio)
Dr. Karin N. Westlund-High
Dr. Robert J. Weyant
Members of the Public
Mr. Peter Anas, Executive Director, Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Clifton M. Carey, Director, Independent Research & Grant Administration, ADA Foundation Paffenbarger Research Center, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD
Dr. Johann Eberhart, Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, TX
Dr. Christopher H. Fox, Executive Director, International Association for Dental Research (IADR)/ American Association for Dental Research (AADR), Alexandria, VA
Ms. Yvonne Knight, Senior Director, ADEA Center for Public Policy and Advocacy, American Dental Education Association (ADEA), Washington, D.C.
Ms. Monette McKinnon, Director of Legislative Policy Development, ADEA, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Karen Novak, Senior Director for Research and Analysis, Center for Educational Policy and Research, ADEA, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Jonathan Nurse, IADR/AADR, Alexandria, VA
Dr. Xiu-Ping Wang, Assistant Professor, Department of Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA
Federal Employees Present
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Dr. Isabel Garcia, Acting Director
Dr. Alicia Dombroski, Executive Secretary, and Director, Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)
Dr. Robert C. Angerer, Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research (DIR)
Dr. Pamela McInnes, Director, Division of Extramural Research (DER)
Dr. Amy Bany Adams, Director, Office of Science Policy and Analysis (OSPA)
Dr. Margo Adesanya, OSPA
Dr. Jane Atkinson, DER, Center for Clinical Research (CCR)
Dr. Penny Wung Burgoon, DER, Integrative Biology and Infectious Diseases Branch (IBIDB)
Mr. David Cabrera, OSPA
Dr. David Clark, DER, Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Branch (BSSRB)
Mr. Kevin Crist, DEA, Grants Management Branch (GMB)
Ms. Michelle A. Culp, Office of Clinical Trials Operation and Management (OCTOM)
Ms. Mary A. Cutting, DER, CCR
Mr. Bret Dean, Office of Administrative Management (OAM), Financial Management Branch (FMB)
Dr. James L. Drummond, DER, IBIDB
Ms. Ki-Cha M. Flash, DEA, GMB
Dr. Leslie Frieden, DEA, Research Training and Career Development Branch (RTCDB)
Ms. Mary Greenwood, DEA, GMB
Dr. Sue Hamann, OSPA
Dr. Holli Hamilton, DER
Dr. Kevin Hardwick, DEA, RTCDB
Dr. Emily L. Harris, DER, Translational Genomics Research Branch (TGRB)
Ms. Jeannine Helm, DER, TGRB
Dr. Victor Henriquez, DEA, Scientific Review Branch (SRB)
Mr. Gabriel Hidalgo, DEA
Dr. Jonathan Horsford, DEA, SRB
Ms. Susan M. Johnson, Office of Communications and Health Education (OCHE)Ms. Mary Kelly, DEA, SRB
Dr. Lynn King, DEA, SRB
Dr. Raj Krishnaraju, DEA, SRB
Ms. Carol Loose, OAM, FMB
Dr. Nadya Lumelsky, DER, IBIDB
Dr. R. Dwayne Lunsford, DER, IBIDB
Ms. Jayne Lura-Brown, DER
Dr. Marilyn Moore-Hoon, DEA, SRB
Dr. Ruth Nowjack-Raymer, DER, CCR
Mrs. Debbie Pettit, DEA, GMB
Dr. Jayalakshmi Raman, DEA, SRB
Dr. Melissa Riddle, DER, BSSRB
Ms. Delores Robinson, DEA
Dr. Isaac Rodriguez-Chavez, DER, IBIDB
Ms. Diana Rutberg, DEA, GMB
Dr. Steven Scholnick, DER, TGRB
Dr. Lillian Shum, DER, IBIDB
Mr. Romeo Tengey, DEA, GMB
Dr. Rebecca Wagenaar-Miller, DEA, SRB
Dr. Jason Wan, DER, IBIDB
Dr. Lois K. Cohen, NIDCR Consultant
Ms. Yvonne duBuy, Office of the Director, NIDCR Consultant
Other Federal Employees:
Dr. Mary Fran Deutsch, NIH, Office of the Director (OD), Office of Extramural Research (OER), Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration (OPERA)
Mr. Michael Han, NIH, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Malaria Genetics Section
Ms. Tina Stiller, NIH, OD, Office of Management (OM), Office of Research Services (ORS)
I. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
Dr. Isabel Garcia, Acting Director, NIDCR, called the 197th meeting of the Council to order. She welcomed everyone and invited all visitors to introduce themselves. She noted that the agenda included discussion of an evaluation of the NIDCR 2009–2013 Strategic Plan and the NIH/NIDCR Pathway to Independence (K99/R00) award program.
Dr. Garcia called on NIDCR directors to introduce new staff members. Joining the NIDCR are Ms. Valerie Lambros, Public Affairs Specialist, Public Information and Liaison Branch (PILB), Office of Communications and Health Education (OCHE), and Dr. Jason Wan, joining NIDCR in a new capacity as Program Director, Mineralized Tissue Physiology Program, Integrative Biology and Infectious Diseases Branch (IBIDB), Division of Extramural Research (DER).
II. FUTURE MEETING DATES
September 19, 2011
January 30, 2012
May 21, 2012
September 21, 2012
January 29, 2013
May 21, 2013
September 13, 2013
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Dr. Alicia Dombroski, Executive Secretary, welcomed the Council members, guests, and virtual participants who viewed the Council meeting online via the NIH videocast (http://videocast.nih.gov/).
Dr. Dombroski invited the Council to consider and approve the minutes of the January 24, 2011, Council meeting. The Council unanimously approved the minutes.
IV. NIDCR DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Dr. Garcia reported on the appointment of a new NIDCR director, the NIDCR budget for fiscal year (FY) 2011, and recent NIDCR activities. Her written report, which contains additional details and items, was provided to Council members and is available on the NIDCR website (http://www.nidcr.nih.gov).
Dr. Garcia reported that Dr. Martha J. Somerman will be the new director of the NIDCR effective August 29, 2011. She noted that Dr. Somerman is well known to the NIDCR and has had a long-standing relationship with the NIH and the NIDCR, including service as a member of the NADCRC from 1999 to 2002. Dr. Somerman is currently dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, Seattle. Before joining the University of Washington, she was on the faculty of the School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from 1991 to 2002, where she served as professor and chair of periodontics/prevention and geriatrics. From 1984 to 1991, she was on the faculty of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. Dr. Somerman will attend and preside as chair of the Council’s next meeting, on September 19, 2011.
Dr. Garcia reported that the NIH budget for FY 2011 totaled approximately $31 billion, or about 1 percent less than in FY 2010. The NIDCR budget for FY 2011 is $409.6 million, or $2.9 million less than in FY 2010. Commenting that that the inflation rate for biomedical research is 3.5 percent, Dr. Garcia noted that, with a less-than-ideal budget, the NIDCR will need to carefully manage its portfolio of programs and strive for balance in funding research to address scientific gaps, maintaining the NIDCR success rate for applications, and assuring that funds are available for new investigators.
Dr. Garcia noted that the NIH just published its Fiscal Policy for Research Awards, which stipulates a 1 percent reduction for non-competing awards for all NIH institutes and centers (ICs), except the National Cancer Institute. She projected that the budget process for FY 2012, which will begin in the next few months, is likely to be difficult. The President’s Budget Request for FY 2012 would provide $420.4 million for the NIDCR. Dr. Garcia noted that the NIDCR congressional justification for this budget request is posted on the NIDCR website.
Dr. Garcia reported that the NIH has established a new Working Group on the Future Biomedical Research Workforce. The group will recommend actions to the Advisory Committee to the Director to ensure a diverse and sustainable biomedical and behavioral research workforce. The questions to be considered in this high-priority effort include: What is the right size of the workforce? What are the appropriate types of positions that should be supported? What is the best way to support the various positions? And, what types of training should be provided? The group will gather input from throughout the extramural community and will develop a model for the workforce that can be used to help inform decisions about training. Dr. Garcia encouraged the Council members to become engaged in the process and to represent the unique needs of the NIDCR and the oral health research community. Additional details about the working group members are available at http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2011/od-27.htm.
Dr. Garcia noted that the NIH has established a new Center for Scientific Review (CSR) advisory council (CSRAC) to focus on enhancing CSR’s operations. Replacing the NIH Peer Review Advisory Committee, the CSRAC will advise the CSR on the peer review of NIH grant applications in scientific review groups at the CSR. The CSRAC also will provide input on CSR policies and practices related to the receipt and referral of NIH grant applications to CSR review groups. Its first meeting was on May 2, 2011, and it will meet twice a year. Meetings are open to the public.
Dr. Garcia highlighted recent accomplishments in the NIDCR research training and career development program to develop the next generation of oral health scientists. She noted that a former NIDCR recipient of the Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) and two former postdoctoral trainees on NIDCR institutional training grants (T32s) have received their first independent investigator research award (R01) with the NIDCR. In addition, five K99 awardees have transitioned to the independent phase (R00) of their awards and will be working in tenure-track positions at the following institutions: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry; Wayne State University School of Medicine; University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine; and New York University, College of Dentistry. Also, nine trainees on NIDCR-supported T32s have successfully transitioned to individual Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellowships (F31s, F32s).
Dr. Garcia reported that the NIDCR is working with Institute-funded investigators to develop a resource for studying the genetics of Sjögren’s Syndrome. Initially, the resources will be based on the Sjögren’s Syndrome International Collaborative Clinical Alliance (SICCA) Registry, which is housed at the University of California, San Francisco. DNA specimens from more than 2,400 individuals with signs or symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome, their biologic relatives, and controls will be used to generate high-density genome-wide genotyping at the Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR) at Johns Hopkins University. Later in 2011, the resource likely will include participants from the natural history study of Sjögren’s Syndrome in the NIDCR Intramural Program and additional participants from the SICCA Registry.
Dr. Garcia noted that the NIDCR has launched a new homepage for its website. It provides faster access to information, includes additional features, is more user friendly, and is being well received. She encouraged the Council members to access the website for NIDCR science news and advances.
Dr. Garcia noted the advancement of two investigators in the NIDCR Intramural Program. Dr. Matthew Hoffman, head of the Matrix and Morphogenesis Section, Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Biology, was appointed senior investigator and converted to tenure on April 4, 2011. He is conducting seminal research on the diverse regulatory inputs that drive salivary gland development, with the aim of designing therapeutic approaches for functional regeneration of damaged adult salivary tissue. Dr. Wanjun Chen, chief of the Mucosal Immunology Unit, Oral Infection and Immunity Branch, was named a senior investigator on May 2, 2011. In a tenure-track position since 2004, he is focusing on understanding the mechanisms and regulation of immune suppression and tolerance, studies that are applicable not only to autoimmunity, but also to transplantation, infectious diseases, and cancer.
The Council congratulated the NIDCR on the appointment of an excellent new director. The Council members commended Dr. Garcia on her excellent leadership and guidance of the NIDCR as acting director and said that they looked forward to her continued dedication to the NIDCR. Dr. Garcia commented that her experience as acting director was enriching and that all NIDCR staff contributed in a team effort to move the NIDCR forward.
The Council asked Dr. Garcia to elaborate on the NIDCR perspective of the new NIH Working Group on the Future Biomedical Research Workforce. She noted that the NIDCR and American Dental Education Association (ADEA) have accumulated much information on the oral health workforce and that additional information and analyses are needed to define current and future needs of the workforce in relation to science gaps. She said that the NIDCR Office of Science Policy and Analysis (OSPA) will be performing in-house analyses and modeling and will work with the working group to address unique issues relating to the pipeline of oral health researchers.
V. CONCEPT CLEARANCE: NIDCR DENTIST SCIENTIST CAREER TRANSITION AWARD FOR INTRAMURAL INVESTIGATORS
Dr. Robert C. Angerer, Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research, and Dr. Kevin S. Hardwick, Chief, Research Training and Career Development Branch (RTCDB), Division of Extramural Activities (DEA), presented a concept for the Council’s review and approval. The concept, developed by staff, is to establish a new NIDCR Dentist Scientist Career Transition Award for Intramural Investigators. Dr. Angerer provided background on the concept, and Dr. Hardwick described the details of the award.
Dr. Angerer stated that the goal of the concept is to provide to highly qualified dentists who hold postdoctoral clinical fellowship positions in the NIH intramural program an opportunity to receive further mentored research experience in the program and independent funding to facilitate their transition as new investigators at extramural institutions. Dr. Angerer noted that the NIH intramural Clinical Center provides an outstanding training environment for dentist scientists and that the NIDCR Blue Ribbon Panel on the Intramural Research Program recommended strong support for the career development of fellows within this environment. Yet, within the intramural program, only a few dentist scientists have clinical fellowships and there has been the perception of little opportunity for career development or tenure-track positions beyond 2- to 3-year postdoctoral fellowships. Enhancements to the NIH intramural clinical research program are under way and include increased emphasis and resources for training, a variety of courses and activities on clinical research topics (e.g., grant writing, clinical trials methodology, research design and management, statistical analysis, bioethics), and increased focus on mentored design and preparation of research grant proposals.
Dr. Angerer said that the NIDCR participates in the intramural enhancements when possible through the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. He noted that, although the K99/R00 is available intramurally, eligibility is limited to applicants who have no more than 5 years of postdoctoral research experience. In addition, no other career development (K) or research (R) awards are available to intramural investigators. Dr. Angerer noted that some dentist scientists are now entering clinical research later in their careers than allowed for in the K99/R00 program and that some of the current best-prepared clinical fellows have no prospect of transitional funding opportunities. As clinical fellows, they are government employees and cannot apply for other awards.
Dr. Hardwick said that the NIDCR is proposing the new award to fill the gap outlined by Dr. Angerer by supporting outstanding intramural clinical scientists who are not eligible for the K99/R00 award. Similar to the K99/R00 award, the proposed program would support two phases of research: (i) 2 years of mentored research training in an NIH intramural laboratory, and (ii) 3 years of support for an independent research project at an extramural institution. The program would be limited to dentist scientists and, specifically, intramural fellows with dental degrees. For the first phase, career development plans would be tailored to the needs of each candidate, and mentors and support would be drawn from the NIDCR and other NIH intramural programs. For the second phase, awardees must receive and accept a formal tenure-track, or equivalent, offer at an extramural institution, and the institution must provide the awardee with at least 75 percent protected research time and space, equipment, and facilities to conduct the proposed research.
For this award, the NIDCR proposes to use the NIH K22 mechanism of support. Dr. Hardwick noted that the K22 award originally was developed to provide transition support for intramural scientists. There would be no limit on the number of years of postdoctoral research experience; applicants would have to be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or permanent residents; and indirect costs for the independent phase would be limited to 8 percent.
Drs. David Johnsen and Pamela Den Besten were the Council’s lead discussants. Dr. Johnsen strongly supported the concept, noting that it is well conceived, addresses an important problem, and has promise for success. Dr. Den Besten remarked that Council representatives worked collaboratively with staff to refine the concept. She noted that the initiative is exciting, addresses a challenging area of research training, utilizes an existing mechanism of support, and taps into NIH’s enormous research opportunities. The two discussants highlighted the need to continue to develop the details of the program and to carefully manage it once it is launched.
In response to questions, Dr. Angerer said that the NIDCR anticipates supporting two to three fellows initially. Dr. Hardwick noted that the K99/R00 award will continue to be the first-choice award for those who are eligible for it.
The Council unanimously approved the concept.
VI. PLAN FOR EVALUATION OF THE NIDCR STRATEGIC PLAN
Dr. Sue Hamann, Science Evaluation Officer, OSPA, NIDCR, presented a brief overview of the NIDCR 2009–2013 Strategic Plan and the methods that NIDCR plans to use to evaluate it. She noted that the evaluation is being undertaken at the request of Council and in preparation for undertaking, in February 2012, the development of a new strategic plan. Dr. Hamann requested that two Council members participate in the evaluation effort as Council representatives.
Development of the NIDCR 2009–2013 Strategic Plan was a broad-based effort that began in April 2008 and concluded in June 2009. It included open-forum listening sessions and conversations with key stakeholders, posting and solicitation of input on the NIDCR website, presentations and discussions with the Council, posting of the draft plan on the website, and incorporation of comments into a final version that was distributed in hard copy and on the website. Dr. Hamann noted that, insofar as the overriding goal of the plan was to provide a guide for NIDCR funding decisions, two key evaluation questions will be: What progress has been made toward the 4 strategic goals and 16 objectives set forth in the plan? What is the utility of the plan internally to the NIDCR and the NIH and externally to grantees and stakeholders?
The evaluation methods planned by the NIDCR include analysis of the NIDCR portfolio and reviews of informative documents (e.g., research citations in proposals and reports). Dr. Hamann noted, in addition, that the NIDCR will interview internal policy and program planning staff and external stakeholders, including staff at the American Association for Dental Research (AADR), ADEA, and American Dental Association (ADA). She suggested that an informative case study would be to evaluate the utility of the Strategic Plan in making decisions about the distribution of funds from the NIDCR Division of Extramural Research and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Evaluation staff also will search relevant Web-based statistics and links.
Dr. Hamann noted that OSPA, under the direction of Dr. Amy Bany Adams, will plan, implement, and report on the evaluation. The effort will be led by Dr. Hamann, with assistance from NIH Management Intern Mr. David Cabrera. Dr. Hamann asked Council members to indicate their interest in joining an informal working group of staff and Council members to plan the evaluation. She anticipated that the group would hold two to three meetings via telephone during the summer of 2011 and complete a final report by January 2012.
In response to questions from the Council, Dr. Hamann stated that the evaluation will focus on the two key evaluation questions and include consideration of the flexibility of the NIDCR Strategic Plan for responding to change. She noted that the new strategic planning process that will begin in 2012 will be to develop a new plan, not to revise the current plan.
Dr. Hamann also noted that the evaluation will include an “environmental scan” of factors (e.g., the NIDCR budget) that potentially affect the NIDCR portfolio. Dr. Garcia emphasized that although the reality of the budget situation cannot be ignored, NIDCR planning must focus on strategies and vision to identify priorities and move science forward, as divorced from budget constraints as much as possible.
The Council offered three specific suggestions: (i) include individuals with electronic, computer, and data skills on the evaluation team and joint working group; (ii) add the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Institute of Medicine to the list of stakeholders to be interviewed; and (iii) continue to limit the number of strategic goals in the next strategic plan, insofar as the current number of four goals has been well received and understood by stakeholders. Dr. Hamann thanked the Council and noted that the NIDCR hopes to glean similar helpful suggestions through the joint working group.
VII. INFORMATION ITEM: REISSUE OF RFA-DE-11-001, COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH ON THE TRANSITION FROM ACUTE TO CHRONIC PAIN: NEW MODELS AND MEASURES IN CLINICAL AND PRECLINICAL PAIN RESEARCH
Dr. Lillian Shum, Chief, Integrative Biology and Infectious Diseases Branch (IBIDB), DER, reported on a reissue of the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) requesting applications for collaborative clinical and preclinical research on new models and measures of the transition from acute to chronic pain. She noted that the focus of this Request for Applications (RFA) is on temporomandibular and other trigeminal-related pain conditions. The three objectives are, in brief, to assemble multidisciplinary research teams, discover biological and behavioral mechanisms driving the transition, and develop new models and measures of pain for these studies.
Dr. Shum reviewed the status of the initial RFA. She noted that the NIDCR received applications in response to the RFA in June 2010 and that the initial review of applications was in October 2010, which was followed by the Council’s secondary review in January 2011. Two applications were found to be exceptionally meritorious and were funded in April 2011.
Dr. Shum informed the Council that the NIDCR decided to reissue the FOA in part because of the strong response received to the initial RFA from well-integrated collaborative research groups. The NIDCR anticipates that the reissue (i) will enable previous applicants to improve on the applications they submitted for the initial RFA and attract applicants from other similarly themed FOAs while research teams are still intact, and (ii) be of benefit to new applicants by giving them additional time to develop and plan projects and to assemble multidisciplinary teams. The target date for reissuing the RFA is June 2011.
VIII. NIDCR SUPPLEMENT TO THE JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH DENTISTRY, SPECIAL ISSUE
Dr. Melissa Riddle, Chief, Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Branch (BSSRB), DER, presented a brief overview of an NIDCR-sponsored supplement, entitled “Special Issue: Behavioral and Social Intervention Research Essentials,” of the Journal of Public Health Dentistry (volume 71, issue supplement s1, winter 2011). She encouraged the Council members to download the supplement, which is freely available from the Wiley website (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/). Council member Dr. Robert J. Weyant is an editor of the journal, and Council member Dr. Steve Martino was guest editor of the issue. Comprising articles, commentaries, and recommendations from experts in the field, the supplement follows up on an NIDCR conference, which was held in Bethesda, MD, on July 23–24, 2009, to address the current state of behavioral intervention research related to oral health.
Dr. Riddle related the supplement to the BSSRB framework for organizing behavioral and social sciences intervention research. She listed the five essential elements of this framework as follows: (i) health behavior therapy (identifying the causal pathways of social and behavioral health); (ii) mechanisms of action (discovering how and why interventions work); (iii) fidelity (determining whether interventions are delivered as intended); (iv) feasibility and acceptability (assessing the relationship and acceptability of interventions to target populations); and (iv) sustainability (realizing the ultimate goal of interventions). Dr. Riddle noted that the five elements fit within the context of an Intervention Planning Model (IPM) and, similar to other medical interventions, link with the four IPM phases—exploratory, efficacy, effectiveness, and efficiency.
Dr. Weyant complimented Drs. Riddle and Martino for coordinating and producing a very nice product involving approximately 30 authors. Dr. Martino noted that the supplement engaged experts from other fields to focus on oral health and serves as a call to action for behavioral and social sciences research. Dr. Riddle and staff said that the ideas and recommendations contained in the supplement are being integrated into the NIDCR program on craniofacial, oral, and dental health disparities. Dr. Garcia commented that the topics and issues addressed in the supplement (e.g., sustainability of oral health investigators) apply broadly across the NIDCR portfolio.
IX. OVERVIEW OF THE PATHWAY TO INDEPENDENCE (K99/R00) PROGRAM
Dr. Leslie Frieden, Extramural Training Officer, RTCDB, DEA, provided an overview and presented data regarding the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Program. She noted that the NIDCR currently supports two K99/R00 programs, the original NIH-wide program and a more recent NIDCR award developed specifically for dual-degree dentist scientists. She elaborated on the NIH-wide award, noting that it was created in response to the increasing average age of new investigators receiving their initial R01-equivalent award. Trend data from 1970 to 2004 show an increase in the average age from approximately 34 years for Ph.D.s and 37–39 years for M.D.-Ph.D.s in 1970 to approximately 41 years for Ph.D.s and 43 years for M.D.-Ph.D.s in 2004.
The intent of the NIH K99/R00 program is to identify promising new researchers with no more than 5 years of postdoctoral research experience and to help them secure independent tenure-track research positions earlier in their careers. The initial (K) phase of 1–2 years supports completion of mentored postdoctoral research training, and the second (R) phase provides 3 years of support at an institution to which an awardee has been recruited for an independent tenure-track position. The program is open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents and non-citizens working in U.S. institutions.
During FY 2007–2010, the NIDCR supported 19 NIH K99/R00 awards, 12 of which supported researchers at dental schools, 6 at non-dental schools, and 1 in the NIDCR intramural laboratories. Most awardees (15) had Ph.D. degrees, 2 had D.D.S. and Ph.D. degrees, and 1 each had D.M.D.-Ph.D.-M.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degrees. A majority (13) were U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and 6 were non-citizens. Of 15 awardees who transitioned to the independent (R) phase, 9 went to dental schools and 6 went to non-dental schools. In response to a question from the Council, Dr. Frieden noted that the level of NIDCR support for this program is strong, compared with other ICs of small to medium size.
Dr. Frieden then introduced two recipients of K99/R00 awards, who described their research and the benefits of this award for their research careers.
K99/R00 Award Recipient – Dr. Xiu-Ping Wang
Dr. Xiu-Ping Wang is an assistant professor in the Department of Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA. Dr. Wang received her M.D. and D.M.D. from Beijing Medical University, China, and her Ph.D. from the University of Helsinki, Finland. She received the K99/R00 award as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She is the first dentist receiving a K99/R00 award from NIDCR.
Dr. Wang expressed her gratitude to the NIDCR for receipt of the NIH K99/R00 award. She said it allowed her to continue in research at a time when research budgets were dramatically declining. She noted, specifically, that she has been able to set up her own laboratory and animal experiments and cover salaries for herself and two postdoctoral research fellows at Harvard. Dr. Wang further noted that, without the K99/R00, she would not have been able to obtain a faculty research position anywhere.
Dr. Wang’s research presentation was titled “Wnt Signaling and Tooth Regeneration.” She presented background on this research interest, noting that some animals are able to continually regenerate teeth and that there is potential for organogenesis and tissue regeneration in humans. She suggested that an understanding of the fundamental principles of tooth regeneration could provide a conceptual basis for research on regeneration of other organs. Dr. Wang noted that more than 300 genes are involved in the molecular events of tooth development and that most are aligned to several signals at different developmental stages. She highlighted the presence of supernumerary (extra) teeth in humans as an interesting phenomena that is indicative of missteps in development (e.g., the splitting of tooth buds) resulting from genetic and environmental factors and that is found in a number of disease syndromes, including ones affecting the colon.
Dr. Wang elaborated on her studies of the role of Wnt signaling and the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene in the development of teeth and, in particular, supernumerary teeth. She described this research and the exciting findings that have come forth from her studies of APC-deficient, knockout mice in comparison with wild-type mice. Dr. Wang mentioned that this research may have promise for patients with missing teeth. She noted that although mice do not have supernumerary teeth, the human phenotype can be recapitulated into mice. In her research, she has established, for example, that the MSX1 gene, which is required for normal tooth development, is dispensable for formation of supernumerary teeth and that APC-deficient cells can recruit wild-type mesenchymal cells into odontogenesis. She noted that her long-term goal is to test in humans the signaling observed in mice. Her specific aims are to identify downstream, target genes of Wnt and ß-caterin signaling in induction of new tooth formation. Future directions relate to the bioengineering of teeth, using, for example, small molecules to induce tooth formation in vitro or in vivo.
Discussion. The Council commended Dr. Wang on her elegant and exciting research. The Council noted that her work is yielding much insight into the genesis of supernumerary teeth, and it was supportive of the goal to extrapolate findings gained in the mouse model to humans. Asked to comment on the mentoring she is continuing to receive during the independent R00 phase of her award, Dr. Wang noted that her Harvard department is supportive and encourages researchers to learn to work independently. Dr. Garcia emphasized the importance of mentoring and the need to counsel K99/R00 awardees to take full advantage of the range of career development experiences afforded by the award.
K99/R00 Award Recipient – Dr. Johann Eberhart
Dr. Johann Eberhart is an assistant professor in the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin. He is the first K99/R00 awardee supported by the NIDCR and currently is a tenure-track professor and recipient of an R01 award from the NIDCR. Dr. Eberhart received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, where he had support from an NIH T32 NRSA, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oregon, Eugene, where he had an F32 NRSA and K99/R00 award.
Dr. Eberhart expressed his gratitude to the NIDCR for the career development and research support he has received. He highlighted grant writing experience as enormously valuable in learning how to communicate ideas effectively, which he noted is as important as having ideas. Elaborating on the benefits of the K99/R00 award, he noted, in particular, the opportunity it provides to gain necessary technical skills during the additional, mentored postdoctoral time. For him, these skills included science writing, gene mapping, time-lapse analyses, and creating transgenic zebrafish. Dr. Eberhart noted that the additional mentored time also had unanticipated benefits—he was able to defer a job offer to continue his research development and to organize collaborations and explore related research interests. He said that, ultimately, having the K99/R00 award led to multiple job offers (insofar as his research was already vetted and he could bring research dollars with him), more successful negotiations for research equipment and facilities, and capacity to hire top-notch personnel for his new laboratory.
Dr. Eberhart’s research presentation was titled “Genetic Hierarchies and Cellular Behaviors during Zebrafish Development.” Focusing on the development of the craniofacial skeleton (palatogenesis) of zebrafish, he is studying how genes impinge on cellular behaviors in zebrafish and in comparison with humans (insofar as gene hierarchies for palatogenesis are highly conserved across unique species). Dr. Eberhart described two approaches—the forward genetic approach and the candidate gene approach—for studying two signaling pathways, the pdgfra and the sonic hedgehog (Shh), involved in craniofacial development. He said that his early postdoctoral research with these approaches led to a hypothesis that signaling between the neural crest and oral ectoderm is reciprocal. With K99/R00 support, he has been able to pursue this hypothesis and examine gene hierarchies in craniofacial signaling. Using the same two approaches, he has shown that formation of neural crest cells requires signaling of the BMP pathway. His continuing research suggests that this pathway, which is downstream from the initial events, may be regulated by expression of the highly variable gata3 gene which, in turn, can be modulated by inhibitors (e.g., Ahsa1 and Hsp90) of gene mutations—to improve the phenotype.
Discussion. The Council commended Dr. Eberhart for his excellent research and quality presentation. The Council suggested, and Dr. Eberhart agreed, that his research model could be used to study cell transformations in other tissues and organs. He commented that his research includes study of gene–environment interactions.
This portion of the meeting was closed to the public in accordance with the determination that it was concerned with matters exempt from mandatory disclosure under Sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5, U.S. Code and Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. Appendix 2).
XII. REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS
The Council considered 483 applications requesting $117,389,185 in total costs. The Council recommended 297 applications for a total cost of $73,195,597 (see Attachment II).
The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m. on May 23, 2011.
I hereby certify that the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete.
Dr. Isabel Garcia Dr. Alicia Dombroski
Chairperson Executive Secretary
National Advisory Dental and National Advisory Dental and
Craniofacial Research Council Craniofacial Research Council
I. Roster of Council Members
II. Table of Council Actions