Archives for December 2015

Understanding Indirect Costs at NIH

With Dr. Meg Bouvier providing a campus workshop on January 13 our current focus is NIH.

Here is an article from her recent blog.

Few topics prompt more questions or seem to stir up more controversy than the subject of Indirect Costs. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how they are calculated, on what a grantee’s institution spends them, and whether any portion should be funneled back to the grantee and his/her department or school. Invariably, my clients who are research development staff, research administrators, and research deans voice loud and often contradictory opinions on this topic (sometimes contradictory to my own opinions!)

For those of us involved in NIH extramural grants, the more we can understand about this controversial topic, the better. Here are two resources I have found helpful as I dig around to educate myself on the topic. I hope you find them helpful as well:

  • “Indirect Costs 101- How NIH Supports Research Infrastructure for Extramural Research”
    Sally Rockey, PhD, Deputy Director of NIH Extramural Research
    September 2015
    This ~22-min presentation gave me some historical perspective on IDC and dispelled some common myths. It is a useful primer to understand the intent of IDC and how it is used to pay for grant-related services at an institution that cannot be tied to a specific project, such as administrative costs, facility costs, etc. It also explains that NIH does not negotiate the indirect rate with institutions, and that this trans-federal negotiated rate is re-negotiated typically every four years.
  • “Indirect Costs: Keeping the Lights On”
    by Heidi Ledford, published in Nature, November 19, 2014
    This article talks about the wide variability between indirect rates at universities (ranges from 20%-85%). The spread is even greater at hospitals and non-profits. Non-profits have the highest indirect rates. This information is graphically displayed in a cool interactive scatter plot—if you hover your mouse over a data point, the stats for institution pop up. The article also discusses that institutions often receive less than the amount negotiated because of restrictions placed on what they can receive for particular types of support (for example, there is a cap on the amount devoted to administrative costs.)

California Department of Transportation

CalTrans is opening a solicitation on Earthquake Engineering. Information is still developing.

The 2017 Call for Submission is now open for solicitation of proposals.  Problem Statement information will be posted by January 4, 2016 and will be continually updated on the following website:

Dr. Lianyi Chen scores!

Way to go Dr. Chen. We are glad o have you on the faculty. See the news article lightweight but very strong structural metal he helped develop.

Article in E News

Lianyi Chen

Lianyi Chen Assistant Professor 233B Toomey Hall 573-341-6023

NIST Issues Notice of Intent to Fund New Manufacturing Innovation Institutes

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today it has issued a Notice of Intent to fund up to two institutes as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). For its first institutes, the Commerce Department will provide up to a total of $70 million per institute over five to seven years. Commerce funding must be matched by private and other non-federal sources. The institutes are expected to become self-sustainable within the time period of the award.

“Today marks a major milestone for the future of American innovation,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The collaborative, cutting-edge technologies being designed, developed and commercialized at our NNMI institutes are essential to America’s long-term economic growth, competitiveness and job creation. Our new institutes will build on the success of the existing seven, and for the first time, the topic areas have not been chosen in advance but will depend on industry interests and input. Together, our growing network of institutes will ensure America remains on the leading edge of the 21st century economy.”

“Each institute serves as a regional hub of manufacturing excellence, providing the innovation infrastructure to reinforce the competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May. “NIST is pleased to support this national effort to build critical capacity in important technology areas, in support of U.S. manufacturing.”

This will be the first NNMI solicitation in which the funding agency has not predetermined an institute’s area of focus. NIST is open to receiving proposals in any topic of interest to industry, particularly those relevant to manufacturing robotics and biopharmaceutical manufacturing. These two subject areas were identified by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Advanced Manufacturing Partnership as technology areas critical to supporting national needs.

A collaborative manufacturing robotics institute would focus on developing advanced robotic systems that can safely operate in collaboration with humans or other robots, be tasked and re-tasked easily, and be integrated into the rest of an enterprise seamlessly and quickly.

A biopharmaceutical manufacturing institute would center on “biologic” therapies that are manufactured using living cells instead of conventional chemistry. The institute would aim to stimulate innovation in manufacturing that will enable new, more cost effective treatment of disease and solidify the domestic competitiveness of the U.S. biopharma industry.


The NNMI Institutes bring together manufacturers, universities, community colleges, federal agencies and state organizations with the goal of bridging the gap between basic research and product development. They aim to accelerate innovation by focusing investment in industrially relevant, pre-competitive manufacturing technologies with broad applications. The institutes also give manufacturers access to shared assets such as cutting-edge equipment and provide opportunities for workforce training.

Seven institutes are already operating across the country, with two more under formation, funded primarily by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy. All of the institutes collaborate through the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, which was established at NIST in 2012 to support the NNMI.

NIST plans to issue a solicitation for up to two new institutes in January 2016. The date and location of a Proposer’s Day will be announced on and at

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit

NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Workshop

Dear colleagues,

I would like to remind you that January 5 is the application deadline to participate in the 2016 NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Workshop, which will be held March 21-22 in St. Louis. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Ming Leu

Subject: FW: 2016 NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Workshop


Please see the opportunity below to participate in the 2016 NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Workshop.  The Online Application states, “The workshop is limited to 200 participants in order to achieve good results. Assistant professors in the disciplines that CMMI supports will have the first priority. If there are spaces left, workshop will also accept assistant professors in (a) other engineering disciplines, (b) science, and (c) other disciplines that NSF support …”

Dr. Ming Leu is one of the workshop organizers.  Please contact him if you have any questions.

Sponsored by the NSF Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, the 2016 NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Workshop will be held on March 21 -22, 2016 in St. Louis, MO.  The workshop will be co-hosted by the Missouri University of Science and Technology and Kansas State University.  This workshop will cover the basics of CAREER proposal writing and review.  It will include presentations by NSF Program Officers and recent CAREER awardees, a mock panel review using actual awarded and declined CAREER proposals, and a feedback session where small groups will review and discuss the draft CAREER proposal project summaries that each participant prepared.  Participants will also have an opportunity to meet with current and previous NSF Program Officers.  The workshop will be hands-on, requiring that all participants read and review six CAREER proposals, actively participate in the mock panel reviews, which are designed as a realistic simulation of actual CAREER proposal review panels. Every participant is required to submit a project summary of their CAREER proposal as part of the application package.  Data from previous workshops suggest that the success rate of the participants is considerably higher than the overall NSF average.  Correspondingly, this workshop attracts far more applicants than we can admit (approximately 200 participants will be selected to attend this workshop), so early application is strongly recommended.  In order to provide sufficient time for these important sessions and to encourage networking among participants and facilitators, mealtime activities will be an important component of the agenda, and the workshop fee of $250 will be charged to help defray the cost of workshop meals and materials.


The application deadline is January 5, 2016. The application procedure and tentative agenda for the workshop can be found at:


Workshop organizers:

Ming Leu, Missouri University of Science and Technology,

Brad Kramer, Kansas State University,


NSF Coordinators:

George Hazelrigg, Deputy Division Director, CMMI,

Z.J. Pei, Program Director, MME/CMMI,




Airport Cooperative Research Program

If any researchers is interested please let me know. Steve  (see National Academies site ACRP)

You are invited to nominate expert topic panelists, file a letter of interest to contract as principal investigator or a topic, or submit a topic for FY 2017 consideration.

Please see the following URL for specifics:

ACRP New Synthesis Topics

ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S01-12 Airport Equity Participation in Land Development
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S01-13 How Airports Document Costs for Non-airline Tenant Rents and Charges
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S01-14 Alternative Methods for Funding Infrastructure Investments at Airports
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S01-15 Airport Operator Options for Delivery of FBO Services
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S02-15 Airport Experience with Alternative Fuels for Ground Transport
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S02-16 Airport Experience with Implementing Notifications Required by the Aircraft Drinking Water Rule
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S03-11 Transportation Network Companies (TNCs):  Challenges and Opportunities for Airport Operators
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S03-12 Arriving Flights and Passenger Quarantine Planning at Airports
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S03-13 Estimating Truck Trip Generation for Airport Air Cargo Activity
ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S04-18 Uses of Social Media to Inform Emergency Responders During an Airport Emergency


For further information on the ACRP synthesis program and processes, see the Overview section of the Web site and the Instructions for Consultants Preparing Synthesis.

If you require further information please contact Gail Staba at 202-334-2442, or by e-mail at

Gail R. Staba, AICP

Airport Cooperative Research Program

Transportation Research Board

500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, D.C.  20001
Office:  202/334-2442
Mobile:  415/305-5380

ORAU notice on summer faculty opportunities

Dear Colleague,

If you are interested in research opportunities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, please see details of the Higher Education Research Experiences Faculty Program in the email below (highlighted in yellow).

With best regards, Krishna

ORAU is pleased to provide the information below regarding an opportunity available to all institutions. This notice is a service to ORAU Sponsoring and Associate Institutions. Please forward within your institution and broadly to colleagues as you feel appropriate.

 The deadline for three 2016 Summer Faculty opportunities at ORNL are quickly approaching.

Visiting Faculty Program applications are due by January 8, 2016 at 5:00 PM EST.  Eligibility requirements include:

  • U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident
  • Full-time faculty member in physics, chemistry, biology (non-medical), math, engineering, environmental sciences, materials sciences, or computer or computational sciences at an accredited U.S. institution historically underrepresented in the U.S. research community

Additional information can be found at:

Higher Education Research Experiences Faculty Program applications are recommended to be submitted by February 1, 2016.  Eligibility requirements include:

  • U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident
  • Full-time faculty member in STEM field at an accredited U.S. institution

Additional information can be found at:

HBCU/MEI Faculty Program applications are due by January 8, 2016 at 5:00 PM EST.  Eligibility requirements include:

  • No citizenship requirement, unless specified on project description
  • Full-time faculty member at institutions of higher learning that are designated by the federal government as HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, or Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions

ORNL is the largest science and energy laboratory in the Department of Energy system.  Scientific programs focus on materials, neutron sciences, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security.  Visit to discover some exciting reasons why ORNL offers great research opportunities!

Contact Julie Malicoat at (865) 576-2311 or for additional information.

ORAU University Partnerships Office


ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance research and education, protect public health and the environment, and strengthen national security. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).


United States Army Medical Research Materiel Command: Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

Department of Defense
United States Army Medical Research Materiel Command
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

CDMRP Research Funding for 2016

The Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Defense Appropriations Act provides research funding for the following peer reviewed programs managed by the Department of Defense office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP):

  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse Research Program – $4.0 million
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Research Program – $7.5 million
  • Autism Research Program – $7.5 million
  • Bone Marrow Failure Research Program – $3.0 million
  • Breast Cancer Research Program – $120.0 million
  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Research Program – $3.2 million
  • Epilepsy Research Program – $7.5 million
  • Gulf War Illness Research Program – $20.0 million
  • Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program – $50.0 million
  • Lung Cancer Research Program – $12.0 million
  • Military Burn Research Program – $8.0 million
  • Multiple Sclerosis Research Program – $6.0 million
  • Neurofibromatosis Research Program – $15.0 million
  • Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Parkinson’s Research Program – $16.0 million
  • Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes – $10.0 million
  • Ovarian Cancer Research Program – $20.0 million
  • Peer Reviewed Alzheimer’s Research Program – $15.0 million
  • Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program – $50.0 million
  • Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program – $278.7 million
  • Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program – $30.0 million
  • Prostate Cancer Research Program – $80.0 million
  • Reconstructive Transplant Research Program – $12.0 million
  • Spinal Cord Injury Research Program – $30.0 million
  • Tick-Borne Disease Research Program – $5.0 million
  • Trauma Clinical Research Program – $10 million
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program – $6.0 million
  • Vision Research Program – $10.0 million

Comprehensive Program Announcements will be released during 2016. The Program Announcements will include detailed descriptions of funding mechanisms, evaluation criteria, submission requirements, and deadlines. Each Program Announcement may be downloaded from the website, or the CDMRP website upon its release.

Requests for e-mail notification of the Program Announcement releases may be sent to Also news and links about funding opportunities are available on Twitter, follow us on

For more information about the CDMRP, our research programs, previous awardees, as well as research highlights and videos, please visit the website at

Point of Contact:

Gail Whitehead

Professional Development Seminar for Faculty: Writing for an NIH proposal

Even though registration deadline is passed – send me a note and we will fit you on. Steve


Report from UM federal relations team

On Capitol Hill

Congress passes tax extender, votes on Omnibus spending bill  
This week, the House and Senate came to agreement on a massive spending bill that would keep the federal government funded until October 1, 2016. H.R.2029 is the $1.15 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2016 omnibus spending bill that also includes bipartisan House-backed language on restricting the visa waiver program (HR 158) and text of fiscal 2016 intelligence authorization legislation (HR 4127), as well as a cybersecurity measure (S 754).

As a result of an earlier budget deal that allowed for spending above sequestration levels, the federal research and education agencies did very well.  Most saw increases, if not level funding, over FY 2015.  And in this fiscally conservative spending environment, many of those agencies had not seen increases in several years.

The big winner in the higher education world is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which received a $2 billion, or 6.6 percent increase, over FY 2015.   This is the largest investment in both dollar and percentage terms since 2003, and much of it was due to bipartisan support and the championship of Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) who has been supportive of funding increases for the agency.

As part of the Omnibus negotiations, Congressional leadership also agreed to move a package of tax provisions that would make permanent several provisions of interest, including making permanent and enhancing the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) for higher education expenses; extension of tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes; makes permanent the research and development (R&D) tax credit; extends the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses; and improves section 529 higher education savings accounts.  Full details on the tax provisions package can be found here and a summary can be found here.

Below are details of agencies and programs of interest in the Omnibus.  In addition, a chart of these programs and their funding can be found here.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is funded at $819.7 million, a $32.8 million or 4.16 percent increase above FY 2015 funding.
  • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is funded at $350 million, a $25 million or 7.7 percent increase above FY 2015.
  • Smith-Lever 3(b)-(c) is funded at $300 million, level with FY 2015 funding and the Hatch-Act receives $243.7 million, also level with FY 2015.
  • The full conference report can be found here.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

  • The Omnibus includes $964 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  This is an increase of $100 million, or an 11.5 percent increase over FY 2015.
  • The Omnibus includes $25 million for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), to include funding for NNMI center establishment and up to $5 million for coordination activities.  Report language directs NIST to follow the direction of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act and hold an open competition to select the technological focus for the NIST NNMI competition.  The Omnibus also merges the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) into NNMI.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • The final Omnibus includes $19.285 billion for NASA, an increase of $1.27 billion over FY 2015.  However much of this increase is directed to the Space Operations account.   The NASA Science programs would be funded at $5.589 billion, an increase of $344 million over FY 2015.
  • Space Technology is funded at $686.5 million, an increase of $90.5million or 15.2 percent over FY2015.
  • The final Omnibus rejects the proposed cuts to NASA Space Grant and funds the program at $40 million, level with FY 2015 funding.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • The Omnibus provides $7.46 billion for NSF, a $119 million or 1.6 percent increase over FY 2015 funding.
  • Conference report language encourages NSF to continue efforts to increase transparency and accountability in its grant awards process.  This includes new requirements that “public award abstracts articulate how the project serves the national interest.”
  • The Omnibus includes $5.966 billion for Research and Related Activities and does not include the proposed cuts to the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) directorate.  The conference report includes language that “Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences shall be funded up to the fiscal year 2015 level.”
  • The full text of the conference report can be found here.


  • The Omnibus provides $70 billion for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E), an increase of $6 billion or 9.4 percent over FY 2015 funding.
  • Department of Defense (DOD) Science and Technology (6.1, 6.2, 6.3) would be funded at $13.25 billion, a $790 million or 6.4 percent increase over FY 2015.  This is higher than the amounts proposed in both the House and Senate spending bills.
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funded at $2.89 billion, a $25.2 million or 0.9 percent decrease over FY 2015.
  • The full text of the conference report can be found here.


  • The legislation provides $5.35 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science in FY 2016, an increase of $280 million or 5.5 percent over FY 2015.
  • The Omnibus provides $70 million for five clean energy manufacturing innovation institutes and $20 million for a “Manufacturing Demonstration Facility” in the area of clean energy.
  • The Omnibus provides $291 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy (ARPA-E) program.  This is a $11 million increase or 3.9 percent increase over FY 2015.
  • The full text of the conference report can be found here.


  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) is funded at $787 million, a decrease of $313 million or 28.4 percent from FY 2015.  Most of that decrease comes from cuts made to internal Laboratory Facility funds. Research, Development, and Innovation is also cut.  Those programs are funded at $434.8 million, $22.6 million below FY 2015 funding.
  • The full text of the conference report can be found here.


  • The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is funded at $147 million, a $1 million increase or 0.68 percent increase over FY 2015.
  • Language included in the conference report commends NEH for its grant programs focused on Wounded Warriors and returning Veterans, as well as the work of the state humanities councils.
  • The full text of the conference report can be found here.

Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funded at $32.084 billion, a $2 billion or 6.6 percent increase over FY 2015.  Within NIH, report language is included that prioritizes Alzheimer’s Disease research; Cancer research; the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI); the BRAIN Initiative; and efforts to combat antibiotic resistance.
  • The Omnibus also retains the NIH salary cap for grants at Executive Level II (the House had proposed decreasing the cap to Executive Level III).
  • Language is included in the report that requires the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program to report to provide a legislative plan to update eligibility criteria and incorporate EPSCoR qualifying states into the IDeA eligibility criteria.
  • The final conference agreement does not include any funding for infrastructure in support of NIH research.  The Senate Labor/ HHS/ Education appropriations bill had included $50 million for infrastructure at institutions of higher education in support of NIH research.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) would be funded at $3.77 billion, an increase of $160.2 million over FY 2015.  Funding was also included at $9.046 million for the Addiction Technology Transfer Centers (ATTC), which the President Budget request had proposed to cut.  The UMKC College of Nursing and Health Studies actively advocated for restoration of those funds.
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) would receive $334 million in FY 2016, a decrease of $29.7 million from FY 2015.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is funded at $6.38 billion, an increase of $36.7 million over FY 2015.  Within that total Nursing Programs would be funded at $229.4 million, a decrease of $2.15 million from FY 2015, due to the restructuring of the Geriatric Education programs.

U.S. Department of Education

  • The Omnibus includes $900 million for TRIO, an increase of $60.1 million for the program over FY 2015.  Report language directs the increased funding to hold a new competition for Talent Search and Educational Opportunity Centers, as well as to increase funding to existing TRIO programs.  The report language also encourages the Department of Education to hold the new competition as soon as possible, in order to award the grants by July 31, 2016.  GEAR UP would receive $322.7 million, an increase of $21.1 million from FY 2015.
  • The Omnibus also includes $120 million for the Investing in Innovation (I3), same level of funding as FY 2015.
  • Promise Neighborhoods program is funded at $73 million, $16.6 million more than FY 2015 enacted level.
  • For Federal Student Aid programs, the Pell Grant is funded at $22.5 billion and the maximum grant would be increased to $5,915, an increase of $140 for the 2016-2017 academic year.  In addition, Federal Work Study is funded at $989 million (same as FY 2015) and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) at $733 million (same as FY 2015).
  • Graduate Assistant in Areas of National Need (GAANN) is funded at $29 million, same as FY 2015 levels.  The House had proposed a substantial cut of this program.
  • Title VI international programs is funded at $72.1 million, same as FY 2015.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is funded at $618 million, a $44 million or 7.6 percent increase.  Within that total, the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) is funded at $54 million, the same as FY 2015.  The House Labor/ HHS/ Education bill had proposed substantial cuts to IES.  The University of Missouri – Columbia College of Education, working with other AAU institutions, successfully advocated for the restoration of this funding.
  • The full conference report can be found here.

U.S. Agency for International Development

  • The Omnibus bill includes $1.5 billion for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an increase of $110 million compared to the FY 2015 level and $174 million below the President’s request.  The Omnibus funds the Feed the Future at $50 million and State is directed to support the Feed the Future Innovation Labs in fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request.  The Omnibus also includes funding for new partnerships within USAID Higher Education programs.  Language is included that funds will be between U.S higher education institutions and developing countries for “institutional capacity building and awarded on an open and competitive basis”.
  • The full conference report can be found here.

House, Senate pass legislation to extend the Perkins loan program  

This week, Congress considered and passed the Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015. This legislation provides a 2-year extension for the Perkins loan program and allows current and new undergraduate borrowers to receive new Perkins loans. Current borrowers much exhaust all subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loan prior to receiving Perkins loans, and new borrowers must exhaust all Direct Loan eligibility prior to receive Perkins loans. Congress is expected to consider the reauthorization of the program in the Higher Education Act reauthorization next year.  The President is expected to sign the legislation into law.

Senate confirms Assistant Secretary of Defense, DoE Office of Science leadership  

This week, the Senate voted by unanimous consent to confirm the nomination of Stephen Welby to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering for the Department of Defense. Prior to being confirmed for his current position, Mr. Welby was the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering, as well a performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. Mr. Welby has more than 27 years of experience in defense work including positions at the Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA).  His biography can be found here.

The Senate also confirmed this month Cherry Murray as the new head of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Ms. Murray comes from Harvard University where from 2009-2014 she was Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences before serving as the Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy and Professor of Physics at Harvard. Among her many career accomplishments, Ms. Murray was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by the White House in 2014 for her work in the advancement of devices for telecommunications, leadership in the STEM field in the U.S., and use of light to study matter.  The press release regarding her confirmation can be found here.

Around the Federal Agencies

ARPA-E to host 2016 conference on energy innovation 
February 29 through March 2, 2016 the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will host its annual energy innovation summit in National Harbor, Maryland. This conference brings together business, academia, and government to advance transformational energy technologies. Keynote speakers will include U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and the President of the World Bank Group Dr. Jim Yong Kim. Learn more about the conference here.

National Institutes of Health releases RFI on precision medicine 
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a request for information (RFI) in November 17 to solicit information for the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program. The purpose of this RFI is to solicit input on conducting physical evaluations on biospecimens from Direct Volunteers for the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program.  The NIH is seeking information regarding strategies that would allow for baseline physical evaluation and biospeciman acquisition from a cohort of 300,000 or more Direct Volunteers. The request for information can be viewed here.

National Institutes of Health releases strategic plan  
On December 16, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) unveiled the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2016-2010. Titled “Turning Discovery Into Health”, the plan focuses on ensuring that the agency is well positioned to capitalized on new opportunities for scientific exploration and address new challenges for human health. The strategic plan was developed after hearing from hundreds of stakeholders, and includes four main objectives:

  1. “Advance opportunities in biomedical research in fundamental science, treatment and cures, and health promotion and disease prevention;
  2. Foster innovation by setting NIH priorities to enhance nimbleness, consider burden of disease and value of permanently eradicating a disease, and advance research opportunities presented by rare diseases.
  3. Enhance scientific stewardship by recruiting and retaining an outstanding biomedical research workforce, enhancing workforce diversity and impact through partnerships, ensuring rigor and reproducibility, optimizing approaches to inform funding decisions, encouraging innovation, and engaging in proactive risk management practices; and
  4. Excel as a federal science agency by managing for results by developing the “science of science,” balancing outputs with outcomes, conducting workforce analyses, continually reviewing peer review, evaluating steps to enhance rigor and reproducibility, reducing administrative burden, and tracking effectiveness of risk management in decision making.”[1]

Read the complete NIH-wide Strategic Plan here.