On Friday, May 5, President Trump signed H.R. 244, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the current fiscal year (through September 30, 2017). APLU President Peter McPherson’s statement on the FY2017 omnibus bill is available here. Additionally, APLU has used social media to thank key members of Congress on completing the FY2017 appropriations process, and especially for including year-round Pell and a $2 billion increase for NIH in the omnibus. H.R. 244 provides funding for the remaining eleven FY2017 appropriations bills (the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill was passed and enacted in September 2016) and meets the base discretionary spending caps set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The omnibus also provides additional funding for national defense, border security, and some research and higher education priorities.
Last week, APLU, the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney urging him to quickly begin the process of establishing the Research Policy Board, mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act. The Research Policy Board will advise the federal government on the effects of federal research regulations and reporting requirements and recommend ways to modify, streamline, and harmonize them.
NIH hosted a call on last Tuesday, May 2nd concerning how the agency plans to stabilize the biomedical research enterprise. Out of concern for flat or negative funding trends for early and mid-career investigators and a large proportion of NIH funding at present being directed to a relatively small concentration of established investigators, NIH is planning to cap funding to any individual investigator with three R01s or the equivalent based upon a calculated score. Scores will be determined using a new tool, the Grant Support Index (GSI), formerly known as the Research Commitment Index (RCI) – much has yet to be determined with respect to how the GSI will assign point values to grants and determine a score for an individual investigator. NIH Director Francis Collins has released a statement on this proposed change, and NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Michael Lauer has further addressed the issue in a recent blog post. This change will not affect current funding and is expected to free up approximately $500 - $650 million in funding for 1500 - 1600 new awards next year. The GSI could potentially be implemented for applications being accepted in September 2017.
APLU is monitoring this potential change and will share updates and opportunities to provide feedback in the coming weeks.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released two important related items. The first is the Final NIH-FDA Clinical Trial Template for Phase 2 and 3 IND/IDE Studies. The template aims to assist NIH-funded investigators in preparing clinical trial documents efficiently so that both IRBs and the FDA can perform speedy reviews. NIH has also released a web-based platform where investigators can utilize the protocol template in an interactive fashion. The Electronic Protocol Writing Tool allows for a collaborative approach to writing and reviewing protocols. Investigators will be able to use the tool to form a “protocol writing team” and assign different individuals with writing and reviewing roles. All of the above resources can be found on the OSP website.
To learn more about the importance of these new resources, please read the latest Under the Poliscope blog by NIH Associate Director for Science Policy, Dr. Carrie D. Wolinetz. For an additional perspective please also see the statement released today by NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. If you have any questions or require further information about these resources, please contact the NIH Office of Science Policy at SciencePolicy@od.nih.gov
APLU is pleased to share a new advocacy infographic and fact sheet, “How Tech Transfer Transforms Society.” Created in conjunction with the Association of American Universities, this one pager illustrates the important role university technology transfer plays in moving ideas from lab to market, and how patent protections are essential to this process. While patent reform legislation has not yet been reintroduced this session of Congress, conversations on the Hill and within the administration continue concerning how best to strengthen the U.S. patent system. To ensure future legislation or reform efforts support and do no harm to the existing university technology transfer process, campuses are encouraged to keep up efforts to educate Members of Congress and their staff on why a strong patent system helps universities contribute to an innovation economy.
CoR Members are encouraged to use this tool in your advocacy efforts. If you have questions on how to customize the one pager, please contact Jeff Lieberson at firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other questions, please contact Carina Marquez-Oberhoffner at email@example.com.
The 2017 “Quest for Research Excellence Conference” will take place at George Washington University in Washington, DC on August 7-9, 2017. Registration information is available here. A foundational goal of the Quest for Research Excellence conference series is to fuel knowledge sharing among all of the parties involved in promoting the responsible conduct of research and scientific integrity, from scientists to educators, administrators, government officials, journal editors, science publishers, and attorneys. True to this ambition, the theme of this year’s conference is “breaking down the silos.”
The 2017 Conference is being co-sponsored by ORI, George Washington University, and Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R). It is expected to draw about 300 people from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Sir Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, will deliver the keynote address. Allison Lerner, Inspector General of the National Science Foundation and Brian Martinson, Senior Research Investigator at Health Partners are the featured speakers. The Conference will focus on five themes, each tackled from the perspectives of various stakeholders: research misconduct, the responsible conduct of research, the legal implications of research misconduct, scientific publications, and open science. Each of these themes will be the focus of a 90-minute plenary session led by a panel of world-renowned experts. Breakout sessions will give participants an opportunity to discuss cross-cutting topics in link to the conference themes, in small interdisciplinary groups.
Applications are now being accepted for the inaugural cohort of the CoR Research Leader Fellowship Program. This program seeks to provide formal and informal training and networking to Vice Presidents and/or Provosts for Research (VPR) and Vice Chancellors for Research (VCR) at APLU member institutions. The Fellowship is designed to provide additional training and experience to individuals who work closely in various capacities as or with VPRs/VCRs, including those who aspire to transition into VPR/VCR positions in the future. The deadline for applications is today, Monday, May 15, 2017; please let Sarah Rovito (firstname.lastname@example.org) know of any questions you may have regarding the application process.
We are headed to Reno! The APLU Council on Research (CoR) will meet from July 9-12, 2017 at The Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, NV. Meeting highlights include a pre-meeting workshop for new and future Senior Research Officers (SRO) and a visit to the UNR Engineering Earthquake Lab. CoR sessions offer the chance to learn from and share ideas with invited speakers and colleagues from across North America. Session topics in 2017 will include matching innovation and capital for growth; technology transfer; large proposal development; breaking down silos between research centers and academic units; bringing the humanities and the sciences together; value proposition; open data and public access; controlled unclassified information; and the New Administration. We once again encourage each participating SRO to invite one Associate Vice Chancellor/President for Research, or future SRO, both to attend the meeting and participate in the pre-meeting “New and Future SRO” workshop – designed to build skills and address topics specific to this audience.