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NATIONAL HEART, LUNG, AND BLOOD ADVISORY COUNCIL
Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), welcomed members to the 221st meeting of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council (NHLBAC).
Dr. Nabel reminded the Council that February is American Heart Month and encouraged everyone to wear a Red Dress pin on National Wear Red Day (Friday, February 3rd ) to show support for women's heart health awareness.
The following Council members were unable to attend the meeting:
Dr. Nabel announced the selection of four new Council members:
Dr. Nabel also announced three new staff appointments:
Three additional staff appointments, pending administrative clearances, are expected to be finalized soon:
The Institute thanks Dr. Carl Roth for his service as Acting Deputy Director over the past year.
The Institute thanks Dr. Carl Hunt for his leadership of the NCSDR.
The Institute is currently completing recruitment for the Associate Director for Research Informatics and Information Technology.
The Council was reminded that according to Public Law 92-463, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the meeting of the NHLBAC would be open to the public except during consideration of grant applications. A notice of this meeting was published in the Federal Register indicating that it would start at 8:30 a.m. and remain open until approximately
12:00 p.m. Dr. Nabel also reminded the Council members that they are Special Government Employees and are subject to Departmental conduct regulations.
Dr. Nabel highlighted several recent Institute initiatives:
The Institute has reviewed its policies for distribution of data from clinical trials and epidemiology studies, and released a Request for Information seeking comments on its proposed modifications. Dr. Nabel looks forward to receiving opinions and advice from Council members on these policies.
The NHLBI working budget for FY 2006 is $2.896 million, about $27 million less than the comparable figure in FY 2005. Although tight financial times are expected to persist over the next several years, the Institute is in relatively good budgetary condition due to its careful financial planning. Dr. Nabel expects the Institute to weather the current stringent times without the need for severe measures. However, as she explained in a recent letter to all NHLBI grantees, direct costs for noncompeting renewals of research project grants (RPGs) will be scaled back in FY 2006 to 97.65 percent of their committed levels. This reduction is being implemented across all the NIH Institutes. Dr. Nabel offered to speak with Council members about any financial concerns
Dr. Gregory Morosco, Director, Office of Prevention, Education, and Control (OPEC), NHLBI, briefly reviewed the Institute's efforts to coordinate the translation and dissemination of research findings to health professionals, patients, and the public in order to provide public health benefits to the nation. The Heart Truth Campaign, a highly successful NHLBI-led outreach program, seeks to reach women with critical messages about heart disease.
Ms. Terry Long, Senior Manager for Health Communications and Information Science, OPEC, updated the Council on the achievements of The Heart Truth Campaign. Launched in September 2002, The Heart Truth targets women ages 40 - 60 years, seeking to increase their heart health awareness. Highlights of the program include the Red Dress symbol; the slogan "Heart Disease Doesn't Care What You Wear - It's the #1 Killer of Women;" many successful partnerships with corporations, non-profit organizations, media, and other government agencies; and over 150 events held in local communities across the U.S.
Dr. Nabel welcomed members from the Public Interest Organizations (PIO) attending Council. Ms. Hoxi Jones reported on the meeting of the PIO held the previous day, January 31, 2006. Ms. Jones commented that the members appreciated the presentation by Dr. Zerhouni, Director of the National Institutes of Health, also appreciated the presentations by Dr. Peterson, Dr. Roth, Dr. Harvey, and Carl Weixler. In general this is an excellent forum to bring together the Institute and the community in a partnership capacity. Mr. Carl Weixler of the Hemophilia Federation of American appreciated the efforts on behalf of NHLBI staff to hear and act upon concerns. Dr. Eddie Glenn-Bryand also expressed appreciation for the Institute’s efforts.
Dr. Paolo Sebastiani, Associate Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Bioinformatics Program, Boston University School of Public Health, discussed her research about complex genetic diseases, which are caused by the interplay of several genes and which can be modulated by exposure to environmental factors. Using an analytical approach based on Bayesian networks, Dr. Sebastiani and her research team have investigated the genetic basis of stroke in sickle cell disease (SCD) patients. They developed a model to identify SCD patients at risk of stroke, based on their genetic profiles. Using data from a large cohort of patients, they have also defined a score of SCD severity and associated it with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs - variations in the DNA sequence) in candidate genes. Dr. Sebastiani now plans to expand her research by performing genome-wide studies, as well as by focusing on specific population groups.
Council members were enthusiastic about Dr. Sebastiani's research. Dr. Nabel emphasized the need to have guidelines in place for the many genome-wide association studies that are on the immediate horizon. She said the first step is the development of data access policies.
Dr. Beebe, Director of the Division of Extramural Affairs, reviewed the general recommendations with Council. The general recommendations are the authorities delegated to Institute staff to be able to conduct business between Council meetings. Several revisions were approved and they are incorporated in the revised document which is included as Attachment B.
This portion of the meeting was closed to the public in accordance with the determination that it concerned matters exempt from mandatory disclosure under Sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5, U.S. Code and Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. appendix 2).
The session included a discussion of procedures and policies regarding voting and confidentiality of application materials, committee discussions, and recommendations. Members absented themselves from the meeting during discussion of, and voting on, applications from their own institutions, or other applications in which there was a potential conflict of interest, real or apparent. Members were asked to sign a statement to this effect.
The Council considered 1,151 applications requesting $1,710,764,343 in total direct costs. The Council recommended 1,150 applications with total direct costs of $1,702,304,890. A summary of applications by activity code may be found in Attachment C.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m. on February 1, 2006.