American Brain Coalition News Update
FY 2011 Spending Measures Have Uncertain Future
The future of the FY 2011 appropriations measures continues to be uncertain, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Nov. 18 that he would not support an omnibus spending package. With the Senate leadership already struggling to find the 60 votes needed to pass an omnibus measure, Sen. McConnell’s opposition increases the likelihood that Congress will instead vote to extend the current continuing resolution (CR), which expires Dec. 3. The CR keeps federal agencies operating at FY 2010 levels, and Congress may chose to extend it through January, February, or through the remainder of the fiscal year. Votes on extending the CR are expected as lawmakers return from the Thanksgiving holiday. House Republicans continue to seek to push spending back to FY 2008 levels.
Following his counterparts in the House, Sen. McConnell also stated his support for an earmark moratorium in the Senate, which further complicates Democratic efforts to clear an omnibus bill, as the FY 2011 appropriations measures included earmarked funds.
NIH Director Recommends New, Single Institute for Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction Research
NIH Director Francis Collins Nov. 18 released a statement recommending the creating of a single institute at the NIH for substance use, abuse, and addiction research. Dr. Collins’ recommendation follows a recommendation made to him by the Scientific Management Review Board. The new Institute would integrate the relevant research portfolios from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and other NIH Institutes and Centers.
Dr. Collins has asked NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., to pull together a task force of experts from within NIH to look across all of NIH's 27 Institutes and Centers to determine where substance use, abuse, and addiction research programs currently exist and to make recommendations about what programs should be moved into the proposed new Institute. The task force is expected to produce a detailed plan sometime in the summer of 2011. Until then, all existing substance use, abuse, and addiction research programs at NIH will continue status quo.
Dr. Collins’ statement is available in its entirety at: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/nov2010/od-18.htm
NIH Intramural Researcher Receives National Medal of Science
National Institutes of Health intramural researcher Mortimer Mishkin, Ph.D., was awarded the National Medal of Science at a White House ceremony Nov. 17. Dr. Mishkin is chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Section on Cognitive Neuroscience, and acting chief of its Laboratory of Neuropsychology. He is the first NIMH intramural scientist to receive the medal, which the President presents each year for outstanding contributions to science. Mishkin is among 10 recipients this year.
In a series of studies spanning more than five decades, Mishkin and colleagues discovered much about how the brain processes input from the senses and encodes memory. In nonhuman primates, Mishkin's team discovered that the brain uses divergent pathways to process two different types of memory. According to the NIH announcement, due in part to work spearheaded by Mishkin, science now understands much about the pathways for vision, hearing and touch, and about how those processing streams connect with brain structures important for memory.
For more information, see the NIH Announcement at: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/nov2010/nimh-12.htm
See video footage of the White House Ceremony at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2010/11/17/honoring-science-technology-and-innovation
Commerce Secretary to Take Questions on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
According to the White House Blog, Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will answer questions about the Administration's role in promoting innovation-based, high-growth entrepreneurship in a live webcast event at 1 p.m. at whitehouse.gov/live. Questions for Secretary Locke can be submitted live during the event at whitehouse.gov/live.
Secretary Locke also authored a Nov. 16 White House Blog entry about the administration’s commitment to research and development. The entry highlights the Obama administration’s efforts to boost innovation, including establishment of the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the i6 Challenge in collaboration with NIH, and the revitalization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
For more information on the Live Q & A, see the blog entry at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/11/16/open-questions-entrepreneurship-and-innovation-with-commerce-secretary-gary-locke
Secretary Locke’s blog entry is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/11/16/moving-ideas-lab-marketplace
NIH Advisory Committees to Meet in Early December
Two NIH advisory committees will meet in early December. The Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) is scheduled to meet on Dec. 7 in Building 31 on the NIH Campus. The SMRB is expected to vote on the report of the Translational Medicine and Therapeutics Working Group at this time.
More information on the SMRB is available at: http://smrb.od.nih.gov/
The Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) will meet Dec. 9 at 8 a.m., also in Building 31 on the NIH campus. At this time, the ACD will receive the Director’s report on the Lasker Clinical Research Program, the ACD TRND Working Group Report, an update on enhancing peer review, discussion of approaches to implementing SMRB recommendations, a review of outside awards for ACD approval, biomedical workforce issues, and the ACD Stem Cell Working Group Report.
More information on the Advisory Committee to the Director is available at: http://acd.od.nih.gov/
HealthyPeople 2020 to Launch Website at December Event
HealthyPeople 2020, which provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for promoting health and preventing disease, will launch its new website at an event on Dec. 2. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jack Morton Auditorium on the George Washington University Campus, 801 21st Street NW, Washington, DC.
Register for the event at: http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020_reg/register.aspx
Stem-cell pioneer says clear law is needed
Philadelphia Inquirer -- "We need a comprehensive national policy on all human embryo research with appropriate, unequivocal laws," he said last week. "Congress has no stomach to take this up." Gearhart understands some people have moral objections to destroying early embryos to get their "pluripotent" cells - blank slates capable of replicating indefinitely, and spinning off all types of more mature cells.