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Vision LogoNICHD's Scientific Vision: The Next Decade
Vision Process Overview
Alan Guttmacher, M.D.DirectorEunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Dr. Alan Guttmacher on camera
Dr. Alan Guttmacher: The NICHD Vision process is really about a year long process, by which we will involve hundreds of folks—primarily people external to NICHD and even external to the National Institutes of Health— to help us really think what are the scientific opportunities over the next decade or so across the mission of NICHD?
Dr. Guttmacher on camera
Dr. Guttmacher: We've identified nine thematic or content areas that we're really going to explore, each of them through a separate workshop. The nine areas: the first is behavior, the second is reproduction, the third is pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, the fourth is cognition, the fifth is plasticity, the sixth is diagnostics and therapeutics, the seventh is development, the eight is environment, and the ninth is developmental origins of health and disease. So we'll explore those thematic areas. We also have some sort of cross-cutting elements that will go across these conversations, for instance training. In each of those nine thematic areas, we need to worry about how we will grow the work force to be able to take care of the research—to really take advantage of the research opportunities that we identify—so there'll be things like training that we consider in each of the workshops.
Dr. Guttmacher: I think the catalyst for the vision process is the fact that we're really entering a new era in biomedical research. We have tools we've never had before; things like having the genome sequence available. But other kinds of tools as well that really put us at a different place scientifically than we've ever been before. And, it's important as we continue to use federal dollars wisely and well to move forward with the kind of research we're committed to, that we do it in a way that really makes sure we're using the newest tools—not simply because they're new but because some of them are more effective than some of the tools we've traditionally used—so that we make sure that we use them and that we also are a bit ambitious in the questions that we ask. That we not simply try to ask research questions that are easiest to answer, but we ask the ones that are most important to answer.
Dr. Guttmacher: We deliberately were involving folks with real expertise in various kinds of areas from very diverse backgrounds. We'll certainly have NICHD staff involved in this, but the vast majority of people involved will not be from NICHD or even from other institutes at the NIH. While we will certainly involve lots of folks from other Institutes, most of the people will be either extramural researchers, who we have supported over the years, or other people who are researchers maybe never supported by NICHD but doing interesting science that we think could apply to the kinds of areas that we're concerned about, but also public policy thinkers, advocates for various kinds of disease groups or other kinds of groups, health care professionals, so we want to include people who've identified themselves for years as part of the NICHD community but also people who perhaps have not been part of our community and that we would like to help us think through our problems and we hope be part of our community as we go forward after this.
Dr. Guttmacher: We've had a lot of people volunteer to be involved. We've also had a lot of professional organizations and others submit to us nominations of folks to be attendees at various workshops. We're trying to be inclusive in this. So we're going to invite anybody who thinks that they have something to contribute to let us know and then we're trying to sort through that. We won't be able to utilize everyone who would like to be personally attending one of our workshops, but the other thing we're going to try to do is use some innovative, web-based, communication tools, so that even people who don't attend the workshops, we'll apprise them of what's happening on our web. But also not so that they'll just be passively involved but to get them actively involved, there will be opportunities for people to send in comments about drafts of various statements we might have and other kinds of things, so that we'll seek input from anyone who is interested in providing us input.
Dr. Guttmacher: The outcome of the—they'll be a real product from the process which is that we would hope to come to some kind of general consensus about what the scientific opportunities are and that to be something that would be appropriate for publication in a major scientific journal at the end of this process, sometime presumably late in 2011, so that that would be something both that would help guide the institute some and our thinking about how we prioritize things, maybe even how we organize ourselves. But we're also hoping it would be something that would be of use to the wider community of researchers and others thinking about our issues, so they too can think, "Well gee, here's some important research questions that maybe our organization, or myself individually, should be thinking about."
Dr. Guttmacher: It's the right time scientifically to be challenging ourselves to do the best science possible using some new approaches and techniques, and to really, I think, take advantage of the fact that we're in a unique period in scientific research, and to stand back a little bit and say how do we utilize these new and unique tools in ways that we never have before.
Vision LogoNICHD’s Scientific Vision: The Next Decade
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