[Histonet] FYI: National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006
From Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006 and Next Steps
I am pleased to announce that the President signed the National Institutes
of Health Reform Act of 2006 on January 15, 2007. This follows bipartisan
support by the Congress. The Act affirms the importance of the NIH and its
vital role in advancing biomedical research to improve the health of the
This is only the third omnibus reauthorization in the NIHís history, and the
first in 14 years.
We have initiated an implementation process at NIH to carry out the new
legislation. The work is already under way. I have formed an Ad Hoc
Working Group of the NIH Steering Committee, to be chaired by the NIH Deputy
Director, Dr. Raynard Kington, and comprising Institute and Center (IC)
Directors and leadership in legislation, policy, management, communications,
extramural and intramural activities, budget, and the Office of the General
Counsel, to make recommendations on the implementation of the legislation.
The Ad Hoc Working Group will be charged to complete a careful, detailed
analysis of the legislation and propose plans for its implementation that
will aid the NIH in serving the public and our scientific community more
Key provisions in the Act include items related to (1) the Division of
Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives; (2) the Common
Fund; (3) the Council of Councils; (4) the Scientific Management Review
Board; (5) Authorization of Appropriations; (6) Reorganization; and (7)
1. The Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives
(DPCPSI) The DPCPSI, within the Office of the Director, is officially
established. The purpose of DPCPSI is to identify and report on research
that represents important areas of emerging scientific opportunities, rising
public health challenges, or knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis
and would benefit from the conduct or support of additional research that
involves collaboration between two or more ICs, or would otherwise benefit
from strategic coordination and planning.
2. The Common Fund
The Common Fund (CF) will support trans-NIH research. CF amounts will be
reserved by the NIH Director, subject to any applicable provisions in
appropriations Acts, but the amount reserved as a percentage of the total
appropriation in any fiscal year may not be less than the percentage =66rom
the preceding fiscal year. The first year that the CF reaches the 5 percent
mark, the Director will be required, in consultation with the Council of
Councils, to submit recommendations to Congress for changes regarding
amounts for the CF.
3. Council of Councils
A new Council of Councils will advise on research proposals that would be
funded by the Common Fund. It will be composed of 27 members selected from
the IC Advisory Councils, individuals nominated by OD offices, and members
of the NIH Council of Public Representatives.
4. Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB)
At least every 7 years, the SMRB will be required to examine the use of the
NIHís organizational authorities, provide a report on the review, and make
recommendations regarding the use of such authorities. If the SMRB
recommends an organizational change, the process to effect the change must
begin within 100 days of the report, and the change must be fully
implemented within 3 years. These requirements do not apply if the NIH
Director formally objects to all or part of the recommended organizational
change within 90 days, and the objection includes a rationale.
5. Authorization of Appropriations
Most expired authorizations of appropriations sections relevant to the NIH
will be deleted from the Statute and replaced with one authorization of
appropriations for the entire Agency for the following amounts:
$30,331,309,000 for FY 2007; $32,831,309,000 for FY 2008; and such sums as
may be necessary for FY 2009.
The legislation requires a public process for certain reorganizations and
identifies procedures for any reorganization.
Most reports pertaining to NIH in current law will be deleted and replaced
by one biennial report to Congress. Additional reports with respect to
collaboration with other DHHS agencies, clinical trials, tissue samples,
whistleblowers, and experts and consultants are required. Reports will be
required from each institution receiving an NIH award for the training of
graduate students for doctoral degrees. ICs will also be required to report
to the Director of NIH on the amount of that ICís budget made available for
trans-NIH research. Detailed information about these elements and others is
available on the Web at http://www.nih.gov/about/reauthorization/.
This affirmation from Congress and the President has come at a critical
time, and we want to ensure that we take the best possible advantage of this
opportunity. We will be communicating with the community regularly as we
make progress in this process.
Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
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