Overall Budget Policy: The FY 2012 request for NIGMS is $2,102.300 million, an increase of $51.719 million or +2.5 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget.
Investigator-initiated research projects and early career investigator research are the Institute's highest priorities. NIGMS will continue to support new investigators and to maintain an adequate number of competing RPGs. Developing a strong scientific workforce is a core element of the NIGMS mission. In FY 2012, NIGMS will continue to emphasize the support of new investigators.
In addition to our research funding activities, we support this goal through a range of training programs. NIGMS will provide an across-the-board increase of four percent for stipend levels under the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award training program to continue efforts to attain stipend levels recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. This will build on the two percent increase in stipend levels for FY 2011. Stipend levels were largely flat for several years, and the requested increase will help to sustain the development of a highly qualified biomedical research workforce.
Funds are included in R&D contracts to reflect NIGMS's share of NIH-wide funding required to support several trans-NIH initiatives, such as the Therapies for Rare and Neglected Diseases program (TRND), the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Opportunity Network (OppNet), and support for a new synchrotron at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. For example, each IC that will benefit from the new synchrotron will provide funding to total NIH's commitment to support this new technology--$10 million.
Intramural Research and Research Management and Support receive modest increases predominantly to support inflationary increases.
» Cell Biology and Biophysics
» Genetics and Developmental Biology
» Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry
» Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
» Minority Opportunities in Research
» Research Training
» Research Management and Support
Cell Biology and Biophysics: The Cell Biology and Biophysics (CBB) program fosters the study of cells and their components. Physics- and chemistry-based technological advances, driven by new types of microscopy, structural biology tools, and many other novel imaging techniques have deepened understanding of life at the level of molecules and atoms. This critical basic research promotes the development of precise, targeted therapies, as well as diagnostics for a range of diseases. In FY 2010, the program launched PSI:Biology, the third phase of the Protein Structure Initiative (PSI), which is aimed at making protein structure determination faster, cheaper and easier. PSI:Biology, which will extend through FY 2015, will make PSI-generated technologies and other resources available to the broad scientific community to solve a range of biomedical relevant problems, while developing technology to tackle increasingly complex protein structures.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for this program is $579.770 million, an increase of $13.487 million and 2.4 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget. The majority of CBB funds will be used to support investigator-initiated research projects in cell biology, biophysics, cellular imaging, and structural biology. In FY 2012, CBB will support PSI:Biology, which will make Protein Structure Initiative (PSI)-generated technologies and other resources available to the broad scientific community. CBB will also use FY 2012 funds to support programs in single-molecule technologies and an AIDS-related structural biology program.
Program Portrait: Investigator-Initiated Research in Microbial Community Dynamics
FY 2010 level: $0
FY 2012 level: $2.5 million
Change: $2.5 million
Microorganisms account for over 90 percent of the cells that make up the human body. Each of us has our own "microbiome" that forms communities that adapt precisely to the different local environments of our many organs and tissues. Recent studies have demonstrated clearly that these microbial communities foster health and prevent infection, but very little is known about the details. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP), launched in December 2007 as part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, is currently cataloguing comprehensively the genome sequences of these hundreds of microbial species that play a role in human health and disease. However, although the HMP gathers massive amounts of DNA sequencing information, researchers know that DNA sequence alone does not explain fully what drives microbial communities to assemble and thrive in humans. Aiming to build upon this growing body of knowledge, NIGMS convened a meeting in November 2008 to consider basic research avenues that may deepen biological understanding of the dynamic interactions between humans and the microorganisms that live on and within our bodies. Conference attendees, representing leaders in the emerging field of host-associated microbial community ecology, identified critical questions and approaches needed to advance science in this intriguing area of biomedicine. In fall 2009, NIGMS issued a funding solicitation titled "Dynamics of Host-Associated Microbial Communities," which attracted a large number of high-quality applications for R01 grants from scientists wishing to use genetic, physiological, and ecological methods to study mixed microbial communities and their internal dynamics, as well as to investigate how those dynamics affect the host organism. NIGMS will fund six such research projects in FY 2011. These projects will employ a variety of model systems, including mice, fruit flies, medicinal leeches, zebrafish, and lung cells from people with cystic fibrosis. Although this NIGMS-sponsored research program is just getting off the ground, it is timed perfectly to complement the ongoing efforts of the NIH-wide HMP, as well as to provide critical insights for new ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent the wide array of human diseases and conditions influenced by the human microbiome.
Genetics and Developmental Biology: The Genetics
and Developmental Biology (GDB)
program promotes basic research on fundamental mechanisms of inheritance and development. This research provides a strong foundation for more targeted projects supported by other NIH components. Although much of GDB’s investigator-initiated research is performed in model organisms, GDB also plans to expand its support for human research that applies systematic approaches to better understand health and disease. A workshop on this topic will be convened in FY 2011, which may lead to a call for research grant applications in FY 2012. Also in FY 2010, the Program continued to support research on the basic biology of embryonic stem cells by continuing to fund five program project grants. In FY 2011, GDB plans to fund several new program project grants focused on understanding the fundamental biology of pluripotency and genetic reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem cells.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for this program is $552.973 million, an increase of $12.863 million and 2.4 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget. As with FY 2011, most GDB expenditures will support individual investigators seeking fundamental knowledge about life processes. In FY 2012, GDB will continue its support for collaborative research for molecular and genomic studies of behavior in animal models.
Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry: The Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry (PPBC) program supports fundamental research in chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, and physiology that contributes to understanding human biology in health and disease and that generates knowledge for new ways to diagnose and treat disease. The program also funds research that explores clinical issues involving whole-body responses in important public health areas such as traumatic injury, burns, wound healing, and anesthesia. In FY 2010, PPBC sponsored a workshop in Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology to stimulate research that integrates traditional drug pharmacology with modern genomic/proteomic technologies and computational modeling and analysis. In FY 2010, PPBC staff also participated in an effort to coordinate research in emergency medicine across NIH.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for this program is $424.944 million, an increase of $9.885 million and 2.4 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget. PPBC will continue to emphasize the support of investigator-initiated research grants. In FY 2012, the Pharmacogenomics Research Network, which is working toward promoting the goal of personalized medicine, will advance into new trans-NIH areas of research while supporting training of the next generation of clinician-scientists. (See the Program Portrait)
Program Portrait: The NIH Pharmacogenomics Research Network
FY 2010 level: $22.3 million
FY 2012 level: $21.6 million
Change: -$.7 million
In 2000, NIGMS launched the NIH Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN), a partnership of research groups that studies how genetic information can predict and improve outcomes for drug therapies. In time, this research aims to use DNA-based information to personalize medicine in routine clinical practice. Since its inception, the PGRN has garnered substantial interest across NIH, and the program now enjoys the participation of nine NIH components that fund nearly 200 researchers across the nation. To date, the PGRN has conducted and published more than 1,000 basic and clinical research studies, which have contributed substantially to the foundation of knowledge about this important area of modern biomedicine. Because the PGRN is trans-NIH in nature, it has been able to address the study of drugs used to treat a wide array of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, asthma, various cancers, depression, and addiction. Other PGRN-focused research has examined the cellular and molecular steps that define how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and gets rid of medicines. The PGRN has made important inroads in defining gene-drug interactions, and this progress has made its way to the Food and Drug Administration, adding to re-labeling efforts toward improving drug safety and effectiveness. In addition to performing individual research studies, PGRN members also work cooperatively and strategically. In past years, they have built alliances with key stakeholders outside the network to assure that the endeavor is more than the sum of its parts. One example is the International Warfarin Pharmacogenetics Consortium, a data-sharing study in which investigators pooled genetic and clinical information to arrive at consensus for DNA-guided dosing. Another is a global alliance between the PGRN and the Japanese RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine, which involves a series of collaborative projects studying medication response across several disease areas, using state-of-the-art genome sequencing methods. NIH recently decided to renew the PGRN program for an additional five years, beginning in 2010. The newly expanded network will continue its ongoing research, and will also move into new areas of study, including rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar disorder. The PGRN, working together with NIH's Clinical and Translational Science Award program, will also support training for the next generation of clinician-scientists, so that they are well-prepared to address implementation of pharmacogenomics into practice.
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology: The Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB) supports research that draws expertise from mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, and physics to solve problems in biomedicine. CBCB emphasizes integrated systems approaches that combine computational studies with laboratory-based investigations that authenticate models. Other projects create virtual laboratories that address questions that for a variety of reasons may be difficult to tackle in the laboratory. CBCB also encourages the development of tools and techniques to acquire, store, analyze and visualize data. In FY 2010, CBCB funded two new National Centers for Systems Biology to advance the study of the complexity of biology and to train more scientists in this emerging field. This national effort, launched in 2002 and now totaling 12 centers, continues to broaden and enhance our understanding of the complex interactions between cells, tissues, and organisms.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for this program is $135.533 million, an increase of $3.153 million and 2.4 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget. Highest priority will be given to investigator-initiated research, since this research will continue to yield information and tools for exploring complex biological systems. Two major initiatives employing FY 2012 funds are the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS), which models the spread of infectious diseases, and the Centers for Systems Biology program, which currently funds 12 centers.
Minority Opportunities in Research: The Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) program aims to increase diversity within the biomedical and behavioral research workforce. Efforts target diversity broadly, addressing groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences, including certain racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and people from low-income families. The program provides research support for faculty at minority-serving institutions, and this support enhances opportunities for student participation in research projects. In FY 2010, MORE funded a workshop to promote greater collaboration between biomedical and social scientists, testing assumptions and hypotheses that undergird interventions for boosting careers in biomedical and behavioral research. The program held several regional technical assistance workshops to help institutions develop stronger student development programs. The MORE program also hosted a technical assistance workshop on how to provide better skills development activities and support services for underrepresented students.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for this program is $141.974 million, an increase of $4.135 million and 3.0 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget. In FY 2012, NIGMS program staff will continue to reorganize existing programs to comply with recommendations issued from a working group of the NAGMS Council. In FY 2012, MORE will also continue to examine the current state of research on interventions that influence the participation of underrepresented minorities in the biomedical and behavioral science.
Research Training: The Research Training program provides research training support for the next generation of biomedical and behavioral scientists. In addition to training Ph.D. and M.D.- Ph.D. students, the program supports postdoctoral fellows through advanced and specialized training in basic, translational, and clinical research. This program also features 12 predoctoral institutional training grant areas (T32s), which provide broad-based, multidisciplinary research training in several areas of biomedicine. Independent of institutional training grant activities, the program also supports the training of students and fellows working in individual-investigator laboratories, as well as mentored career development awards in five clinical areas. In FY 2010, the program continued the Community for Advanced Graduate Training, a Web-based tool to facilitate interactions and recruitment efforts between the NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs and the Institute's predoctoral T32 programs. NIGMS recently initiated a strategic planning process for training and career development: the Strategic Plan will be available in early 2011.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for this program is $203.523 million, an increase of $5.966 million and 3.0 percent above the FY 2010 Actual Budget. Consistent with overall NIH policy, NIGMS will be providing a 4% stipend increase in FY 2012. Maintaining a healthy pipeline of researchers is critical to maintaining the vibrancy of the scientific enterprise. NIGMS will continue to support rigorous research training programs that foster intellectual creativity, learning of quantitative skills, and exposure to topics in human health. In FY 2012, NIGMS will continue its new program supporting the research training of basic behavioral scientists and will promote strategies outlined in the NIGMS Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training.
Intramural: The Institute has a small, but unique intramural research program, the NIGMS Pharmacology Research Associate program, which supports postdoctoral research fellows for up to three years. Fellows pursue research under the guidance of a scientist from either an NIH or FDA laboratory, and they also receive specialized training and career mentoring from NIGMS staff. The program is intended for basic or clinical scientists seeking advanced training in pharmacology, or for pharmacology trainees who wish to broaden their skill sets in another area of biomedicine. A number of former program participants have gone on to distinguished careers in academia, industry, and government, and one has won a Nobel Prize.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for the Intramural Research program is $2.844 million, an increase of $28 thousand and 1.0 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget. NIGMS will continue its PRAT program, which provides training for outstanding fellows who conduct research in intramural laboratories of other NIH institutes and centers or in FDA laboratories. After their NIH training, the PRAT fellows continue their careers as faculty at leading universities, in the pharmaceutical industry, or at government agencies, contributing pharmacology expertise and helping to meet national needs.
Research Management and Support: NIGMS Research Management and Support (RMS) activities provide administrative, budgetary, logistical, and scientific support in the review, award, and monitoring of research grants, training awards, and research and development contracts. The Program also encompasses strategic planning, coordination, and evaluation of the Institute's programs; regulatory compliance; and international coordination and liaison with other Federal agencies, Congress, and the public. The RMS program funds improvements in information technology tools to facilitate the peer review process, conduct portfolio analysis, and assist with document management. In FY 2012, RMS funds will be used to transform the NIGMS computing infrastructure into a virtual environment. One of the benefits will be a significant reduction in the Institute's energy utilization, as well as a more flexible and responsive information technology environment to better serve the business needs of NIGMS and its customers. The RMS program will also implement the Institute's information technology disaster recovery plans, which will enhance greatly NIGMS' ability to sustain mission-critical operations during a pandemic or other emergency.
Budget Policy: The FY 2012 budget estimate for RMS is $60.739 million, an increase of $2.202 million and 3.76 percent over the FY 2010 Actual Budget. In FY 2012, RMS funds will continue to support development of the Institute's computing infrastructure to better serve the business needs of NIGMS and enhance security and emergency preparedness, while reducing energy consumption. RMS funds will also contribute to the administration of the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Research Opportunity Network (OppNet).