When I think of December, my thoughts usually turn to the holiday season, time with friends and family, and the anticipation of one year ending and a new one about to begin (it also brings to mind cold weather and limited daylight but that is for another blog). When it comes to life at NIH though, December means the biannual meeting of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) and updating the public on some of the key activities the agency is spearheading in service to science and society.
For readers that are unfamiliar with the ACD, this committee provides expert advice on some of the most pressing issues facing the NIH and the research we conduct and fund. While all ACD meetings involve interesting presentations and thought-provoking questions, this one will be a very special one as it will be the first ACD meeting for Dr. Monica Bertagnolli in her capacity of NIH Director!
In addition to the excitement of having Dr. Bertagnolli at the meeting, I am very proud that the agenda is chockablock with issues in which OSP is either the lead for the agency or a substantial contributor. Everyday I see the brilliance of the OSP staff in dealing with extraordinarily complex issues. It is a gratifying to be able to stand up in front of one of NIH’s most expert committees and detail the fruits of that labor.
During the December 14-15 meeting of the ACD, I will be busy participating in three presentations. The first talk, on the afternoon of the 14th, will be a status update on the work of the Novel Alternative Methods (NAMs) Working Group (WG) that I will be presenting with my WG co-chair, Dr. Howard Chang. During this presentation, Dr. Chang and I will detail the WG’s recommendations on how NIH can best catalyze and develop NAMs and transform our understanding of human health in the process.
The second presentation will kick-off the morning session on the 15th. Dr. Garth Graham and I, as co-chairs of the HeLa Genome Data Access WG, will discuss the requests we have received for the full HeLa who genome sequence since the previous ACD meeting. Since 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the NIH-Lacks Family Agreement, the bulk of the presentation will focus on how NIH can continue to promote this unique partnership.
The final presentation in my trifecta is near and dear not only my heart, but Dr. Bertagnolli’s as well. The talk will focus on how NIH is fostering engagement, transparency, and trust in clinical research. This is an exciting topic, and I will describe some of the steps we hope to take to more fully incorporate public voices in the design, planning, and dissemination of NIH-funded clinical research. I can’t lie, I am a little nervous that my voice might not make it through all these presentations! Nevertheless, I am willing to risk sounding like Kermit the frog for a few days so that I can help spread the word about the important work OSP and NIH are undertaking. I invite you to join me at the ACD meeting taking place on December 14-15. The full agenda and webcast information can be found at: https://acd.od.nih.gov/meetings.html