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Build Mentor/Mentee Connections with MyNRMN

Re-Posted from National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research, November 9th, 2016

Are you a trainee looking for a mentor? Are you a scientist looking to foster careers in research? A new tool supported by NIH can help you build mentoring relationships and further the scientific enterprise through these connections.

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) is an NIH program developed in response to advisory committee recommendations for developing and supporting a robust and diverse research workforce. To help biomedical researchers and students across the United States connect professionally, the program launched a free, web-based social networking platform called MyNRMN. MyNRMN is designed for scientists at every career level across all of the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences. The NRMN program is managed by NIH’s National institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and supported by the NIH Common Fund; however, you do not need to be an NIH-supported scientist to use this resource.

Read more about this tool on the NIGMS Feedback Loop blog.

Related link:

House Passes Sweeping Biomedical Innovation Bill

Re-submitted from: American Institute of Physics News Page

Number 150: December 1, 2016

House Passes Sweeping Biomedical Innovation Bill with $4.8 Billion Boost for NIH

The House easily passed the bipartisan “21st Century Cures Act” yesterday. Among its numerous provisions, the bill allocates $4.8 billion over 10 years to the National Institutes of Health in support of the Obama administration’s Cancer Moonshot, BRAIN, and Precision Medicine Initiatives, and creates a Research Policy Board tasked with identifying means of reducing administrative burdens.

Yesterday, the House passed the “21st Century Cures Act” by a vote of 392 to 26, after adopting a manager’s amendment. Some Senate Democrats, namely Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have vowed to oppose the bill, arguing that it unduly benefits the pharmaceutical industry. However, the bills’ backers are optimistic that the Senate will pass the legislation and the president will sign it into law before the current Congress ends. The White House says it “strongly supports” the bill, which would provide dedicated funding for three of President Obama’s biomedical innovation priorities: the Cancer Moonshot, BRAIN, and Precision Medicine initiatives.

Bill passes despite scaled-back funding boost

The House has been working on the bill for the past three years, and the final text reflects many compromises made to win the support of both parties, the pharmaceutical industry, patient advocates, and the research community.

Before the vote on the House floor yesterday, the lead Republican sponsor Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) summarized the underlying motivation for the bill:

“Finding cures and boosting research and innovation was absent from any policy to-do list. People didn’t seem to care that the gap between biomedical innovation and our regulatory process was widening, or that of the 10,000 known diseases—7,000 of which are rare—there are treatments for only about 500. We needed to change the conversation and restore urgency. And working together, we have.”

However, some blasted the decision to significantly reduce the overall funding boost provided to NIH and make it subject to annual appropriations. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) explained that he rescinded his support for the bill because of this change:

“In a wide and endless desert of support for research funding, even getting a few drops of rain is understandably welcomed by the thirsty. … I voted for the bill when it was on the floor of the House at a previous time. At that point, it promised the hope, after this long drought of almost $10 billion in assured, certain funding … . Now, under this new measure, we have only about a fourth of the funding previously approved in the House, and it is no longer certain money; it is maybe money for the future.”

As reported in FYI #144, the initial version of the bill would have provided NIH with $8.75 billion in mandatory funding over a five-year period. The new version provides NIH with $4.8 billion over a ten-year period, and the funding must be approved by appropriators on an annual basis. This change was made to gain the support of fiscal conservatives opposed to establishing new mandatory funding streams.

The NIH Innovation Account established by the bill provides $1.8 billion for the Cancer Moonshot, $1.5 billion for the BRAIN Initiative, $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, and $30 million for a regenerative medicine research program. This funding would be added to the annual discretionary appropriations for NIH. The bill also provides $500 million over nine years to the Food and Drug Administration and $1 billion over two years to address the opioid crisis.

NIH Innovation Account Allocations

The funding profile for these initiatives is perhaps influenced by the timing of the offsets used to pay for the spending increases. These offsets include the sale of millions of oil barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the diversion of money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the Affordable Care Act.

Other items of interest include top-line authorizations, new Research Policy Board

The bill contains numerous other provisions pertaining to NIH, such as authorization of top-level funding and measures to support young scientists, improve research coordination, increase research data sharing, and reduce administrative burden.

The bill authorizes $34.9 billion for NIH in fiscal year 2018, $35.6 billion in FY 2019, and $36.5 billion in FY 2020. Although appropriators often do not match the authorized funding levels, the increases indicate congressional support for raising the base NIH budget higher than the amount that would be provided by the Innovation Fund alone.

Indeed, the pending FY 2017 House and Senate appropriations bills would provide NIH with a $1.25 billion or $2 billion increase, respectively, over the FY 2016 level of $32.3 billion. However, Congress appears likely to extend the current continuing resolution that has fixed spending at FY 2016 levels, meaning that the proposed increase may not materialize this year.

Also of particular note, the bill establishes a Research Policy Board charged with recommending ways to modify and harmonize research regulations across the government with the goal of reducing administrative burdens while maintaining proper oversight. The board would serve as an advisory committee to the White House Office of Management and Budget and have up to 10 federal members, 9 to 12 non-federal members, and sunset at the end of FY 2021. As reported in FYI #80, the National Academies recommended that Congress create such a body, although the Academies proposed a different organizational structure for the board.

School of Nursing Faculty Presents Paper in Australia

Jane GrassleyJane Grassley, professor and Jody DeMeyer Endowed Chair for the School of Nursing, presented a paper on Nov. 11 at the Joanna Briggs Institute 20th Anniversary conference and celebration in Adelaide, South Australia. The conference had an international audience.

The paper, “Transition from Clinical Expert to Novice Academic Educator, A Metasynthesis of the Qualitative Evidence,” reported the findings of a systematic review of the literature conducted with Andrea Lambe, former graduate assistant, and Pam Strohfus, associate professor and coordinator of the DNP program for the School of Nursing, which included qualitative evidence related to the experience of expert clinicians who transition to a novice nursing faculty role.

Grassley found that clinicians experienced feeling unprepared for the faculty role: for the differences between teaching and practice, and for relationships with students. Second, these clinicians-turned-faculty were no longer experts, which elicited uncomfortable feelings about being a novice again. They experienced fears of failing as a teacher, grief over losing their status as an expert clinician, and second-thoughts about their decision to enter a faculty role. Third, mentoring was the essential component in easing these facultys’ transition and included formal and informal mentoring; however, a lack of mentoring was a common experience. Novice faculty felt they were expected to figure out how to teach on their own. Fourth, a healthy transition was characterized by embracing a new identity as a nurse educator and beginning to thrive as a teacher.

In conclusion, Grassley found that the transition from expert clinician to novice faculty can be difficult as teaching is very different than practicing nursing. Schools of nursing can use these findings to create welcoming communities that provide ongoing orientation to the academic culture, intentional mentoring, and professional development in teaching and learning.

“I enjoyed this conference,” said Grassley. “Not only was the meeting set in the lovely Adelaide Botanical Gardens, I met nurses from all over the world. We had many interesting conversations about the importance of translating research findings into evidence-based practice and I was able to introduce others to the work we do at Boise State and the School of Nursing.”

The Joanna Briggs Institute is the international not-for-profit, research and development Centre within the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medical at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. It is an organization committed to promoting best health care practices through the synthesis and dissemination of best evidence.

Grassley joined the School of Nursing faculty in 2010 after teaching at Texas Woman’s University where she earned her PhD in nursing science in 2004. As a board certified lactation consultant, her research explores issues related to promoting breastfeeding. She also holds a joint appointment with Women’s Services at St. Luke’s Regional Health System to collaboratively develop research projects with the Treasure Valley hospital’s lactation consultants. These projects have focused on improving breastfeeding outcomes through nursing support.

New Application Instructions and Important Reminders for Appendix Sections and Post-submission Materials

As you’re preparing your application for due dates on or after January 25, 2017, be sure to consult the recently updated NIH application guide, which reflects two important changes in our submission guidelines.

As announced earlier this year, you may only include certain materials as an appendix to your application. The only materials that will be accepted in the appendix section are:

  • For applications proposing clinical trials (unless the funding opportunity announcement provides other instructions for these materials):
    • Clinical trial protocols
    • Investigator’s brochure from Investigational New Drug (IND), as appropriate
  • For all applications:
    • Blank informed consent/assent forms
    • Blank surveys, questionnaires, data collection instruments
    • FOA-specified items.
      • If appendix materials are required in the FOA, review criteria for that FOA will address those materials, and applications submitted without those appendix materials will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

If any other materials are included in the appendix your application will be withdrawn and not reviewed.  Of particular note, papers and manuscripts are no longer acceptable as appendix materials.

NIH also simplified the types of materials that can be submitted due to unforeseen events after submission of the grant application but prior to the initial peer review.

Read NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-16-129 for more information on the appendix policy change, and NOT-OD-16-130 for details on the new post-submission materials guidelines. And as always, before applying, please be sure to carefully read the application instructions of the funding opportunity to which you are responding!

Uwe Reischl Featured on KTVB

Uwe ReischlUwe Reischl, professor for the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health, was interviewed by KTVB reporter Dean Johnson about how his research focused on keeping agricultural workers from overheating could be applied to police canines. Reischl’s lab has developed a prototype of a vest designed to keep dogs cool. The vest could be adapted to use Kevlar, thus providing protection from bullets as well. See the report here.

Grant Writing for Rural Healthcare Projects

Rural America includes vibrant communities that find innovative solutions to unique healthcare challenges. Nonprofit organizations and healthcare providers in rural areas rely on government and state funders as well as foundations to help bring new projects to life or sustain crucial, existing services.

Getting a grant is hard work, and can involve numerous, time-intensive steps.  Funders hold competitive cycles for grant programs in which rural organizations must compete alongside well-funded, well-prepared organizations with dedicated and experienced grant writing teams. Organizations in rural areas are less likely to have staff members strictly dedicated to grant writing. Community members or staff members who have the most writing or business experience may be chosen by necessity to be responsible for securing funds.

Although rural organizations rely on grant funding, they face many barriers as identified in the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s 2007 report Rural Philanthropy: Building Dialogue from Within, including:

  • Lack of major foundations located in rural areas, leading to fewer networking opportunities
  • The ability to show potential impact to funders when serving less densely populated areas
  • Perception that rural projects are less sustainable and organized
  • Weaker local nonprofit infrastructure

In addition to those barriers, the amount of funding being allocated to rural organizations is significantly smaller per capita when compared to urban counterparts. A 2015 USDA report, Foundation Grants to Rural Areas from 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns, compares the average value of grants from large foundations given from 2005 to 2010. The report states that organizations based in nonmetro counties received less than half the amount per capita compared to organizations in metro counties.

A great grant proposal isn’t just about requesting funding. Successful grant applications should be thought of as the first step to building sustainable, long-term programs that will increase the health of rural communities. This guide can serve as a starting point for those who need assistance to begin the grant writing process. It will cover tips on searching for rural-specific funding, grant proposal preparation, building successful funding relationships, and planning for program sustainability.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Build Mentor/Mentee Connections with MyNRMN

Are you a trainee looking for a mentor? Are you a scientist looking to foster careers in research? A new tool supported by NIH can help you build mentoring relationships and further the scientific enterprise through these connections.

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) is an NIH program developed in response to advisory committee recommendations for developing and supporting a robust and diverse research workforce. To help biomedical researchers and students across the United States connect professionally, the program launched a free, web-based social networking platform called MyNRMN. MyNRMN is designed for scientists at every career level across all of the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences. The NRMN program is managed by NIH’s National institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and supported by the NIH Common Fund; however, you do not need to be an NIH-supported scientist to use this resource.

Read more about this tool on the NIGMS Feedback Loop blog.

Related link:

Announcing New Tools and Information to Support Scientific Workforce Diversity in Extramural Programs

Promoting a diverse and robust scientific workforce is critical to advancing scientific discovery and research in support of human health, so NIH has developed a new portal to information on supporting diversity in NIH-funded research. This NIH website has four main areas of focus:

Additionally, the site provides direct links to NIH institute and center-specific programs related to supporting diversity in particular research areas. NIH welcomes your feedback on the site, and we encourage you to share this resource with your colleagues.

Does long term exposure to air pollution contribute to the development of heart disease?

Cynthia Curl, Community and Environmental Health, Studio PortraitCynthia Curl, assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health, co-published an article in The Lancet volume 388 number 10045 about her study on this subject.

Curl’s article, “Association between Air Pollution and Coronary Artery Calcification within Six Metropolitan Areas in the USA (the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution): a longitudinal cohort study” aimed to understand whether exposure to air pollution over long periods of time leads to a buildup of calcium in the coronary artery and/or a thickening of the carotid artery walls, both of which are indicators of the development of heart disease.

The primary aim was to examine the association between both progression of coronary artery calcium and the measurement of the thickness between the innermost two layers of the wall of the carotid artery in people who had long-term exposure to ambient air pollutant concentrations. Factors were adjusted for baseline age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic characteristics, cardiovascular risk factors, site, and CT scanner technology.

Curl found that in most people, coronary calcium increased on average by 24 Agatston units per year, and intima-media thickness by 12 micrometers per year.  After adjusting for risk factors or air pollutant exposures in the test subjects, increased concentrations of traffic-related air pollution within metropolitan areas, in ranges commonly encountered worldwide, are associated with progression in coronary calcification, consistent with acceleration of atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls). This study supports the case for global efforts of pollution reduction in prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Curl earned her Ph.D. in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences from the University of Washington in 2014, and her M.S. from the same program in 2000. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania in 1998. Curl joined Boise State University in the spring of 2015 as an assistant professor after spending eight years as the project manager for the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution at the University of Washington. Prior to that position, Curl worked in academia as a researcher for the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center at the University of Washington. She also spent time working in both the private and non-profit sectors as an environmental consultant and as a researcher.

This is the most high-impact journal in which Curl has published to date. Read the article here.

Idaho Caregiver Alliance Releases Action Plan as Governor Recognizes November as National Family Caregiver Month

Re-posted from: Boise State University Update: BY: CIENNA MADRID PUBLISHED 11:56 AM/ NOVEMBER 11, 2016

BY: CIENNA MADRID

Idaho’s caregivers ­­– parents, sons and daughters, spouses, friends and neighbors – provide more than 201 million hours in uncompensated care annually. Acknowledging their service, Gov. Butch Otter recognized November as National Family Caregiver Month, hailing the contributions of Idaho’s estimated 300,000 family caregivers.

“I am so happy to see the state recognize the importance of family caregivers,” said Beth Gee, a family caregiver and Boise State University employee. “For me, as someone working full time and caring for my parents and young children, a helping hand now and then would be appreciated.”

Like Gee, most caregivers balance full- or part-time employment with managing the complex care and medical needs of their loved ones. Although they do this work willingly, it comes at a cost. Caregivers can lose up to $600,000 in wages over a lifetime, and Idaho employers lose approximately $33.6 billion in productivity annually, according to the Idaho Caregiver Alliance.

The Alliance, formed in 2012 at Boise State, includes representatives of the private sector, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Acknowledging that the importance of family caregivers will continue to grow, the Alliance has released an Idaho Lifespan Family Caregiver Action Plan to raise awareness of family caregiving. It identifies actions that will assist caregivers as they strive to keep their jobs, maintain their health and avoid burnout. Among the action plan’s recommendations:

  • Giving caregivers “respite care” or time away from caregiving to help prevent or delay burnout, relieve caregiver stress, and allow caregivers time to take care of themselves.
  • Investing in training and information for caregivers, who are increasingly expected to manage complex medical and/or psychological conditions with little to no information, instruction, or support.
  • Increasing public awareness about unpaid caregivers, and recognizing employers who currently do accommodate the needs of family caregivers.
  • Working to embed the voice of caregivers in policy decisions and systems.

The full action plan is available at: https://hs.boisestate.edu/csa/files/2016/09/Idaho-Family-Caregiver-Action-Plan-pdf.pdf

“Most of our systems are siloed into about thinking about the person with the condition when it comes to policy decisions, rather than the network of support that surrounds them,” explained Sarah Toevs, coordinator for the Alliance and director of the Study of Aging at Boise State. “Not only are caregivers asked to provide increasingly complex care for family members with disabilities or chronic illnesses, but the number of available caregivers is declining. Currently, there are six working adults for every person over the age of 65, but by 2020 this ratio will be three to one.”

An investment in caregiving is an investment in people, Toevs added, and also reflects Idaho values of family and independence.

“I hope policy makers support the recommendations identified in the Idaho Caregiver Action Plan,” Gee said. “We are on the verge of a caregiver crisis.”

Information about the Alliance is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/idahocaregiveralliance/.