NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
March 27, 2007 • Volume 4 / Number 13 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Community UpdateCommunity Update

New NIH Roadmap Initiatives Proposals Announced

Last month, NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni announced five new strategic areas that have been selected as major initiatives for possible development in the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research for fiscal year 2008.

The NIH Roadmap is a series of programs jointly funded by all NIH institutes and centers (ICs), including NCI, via the Common Fund and by the NIH director. It is intended to be an "incubator space" for programs that, due to their cross-cutting relevance and/or complexity, warrant concerted attention from the NIH as a whole.

Last year, in preparation for the transition of the first cohort of Roadmap initiatives out of the "incubator space," NIH began a process of soliciting ideas for the next set of strategic trans-NIH Roadmap initiatives from external panels of scientific consultants, the internal NIH community, and from the broad stakeholder communities. The NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI) coordinated a programmatic review of the submitted ideas. The IC directors also helped narrow the selection which resulted in five top areas picked to be considered for new Roadmap initiatives:

  • Microbiome - Initiatives in this area would focus on developing a deeper understanding of the communities of microbes in the human body in order to determine how they affect health.
  • Protein Capture/Proteome Tools - Efforts in this area would support developing and making available to the scientific community high-quality probes specific to every protein in the human and in desired animal models.
  • Phenotyping Services and Tools - Initiatives in this area would encourage the development of resources to systematically catalog human phenotypes in an effort to characterize complex diseases and disorders.
  • Inflammation - This initiative would be valuable in uncovering as-yet-unknown immune mechanisms and mediators of inflammation as well as genetic factors, environmental triggers, and the relationship of inflammation to disease.
  • Epigenetics - Epigenetic changes have been associated with disease, but further progress requires the development of better methods to detect the modifications and a clearer understanding of factors that drive these changes.

Other areas of research that were not selected for further development as major Roadmap initiative proposals were highlighted as areas where additional information would be useful: regenerative medicine, pharmacogenomics, and bioinformatics. Roadmap coordination groups will assess current efforts in those areas and may propose activities that the NIH could undertake to foster collaborations across organ systems or diseases.

NCI Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber is co-chairing the work group for the Protein Capture/Proteome Tools initiative proposal. In addition, NCI staff members are serving on many of the other Roadmap working groups, coordinating groups, and pilot study groups.

Finally, Dr. Zerhouni also announced plans to consult with members of the biomedical research community in the next few months on areas where broad strategic thinking and planning are needed. These strategic planning activities will be focused in three areas: training, health disparities, and the science of science administration.

Plans for each of the five strategic Roadmap initiative proposals will be developed over the next few months. They will then be reviewed by the IC directors, the NIH director, and his advisory committee in order to determine Roadmap funding priorities beginning in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.