NEW YORK, July 30 - NIH should look in to merging NHGRI with NIGMS, a report published online Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends.
The 137 page report, Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health: Organizational Change to Meet New Challenges, comes out of a committee established by the IOM last year, which was established to look at the organizational structure of NIH.
The report contains 14 recommendations for the restructuring of the NIH. The second recommendation, "public process for considering proposed changes in the number of NIH institutes or centers," includes the proviso that "the public, the scientific community, or the director of NIH, in concert with internal and external advisers, should be able to "suggest additions, subtractions, or merger of units to Congress at appropriate times."
The report goes on to propose, as part of this recommendation, "two suggestions for further study: the merger of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the merger of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Human Genome Research Institute."
"Indeed, the Committee favors these mergers," the report said, "but believes that such changes should benefit from the use of the process" in which the NIH director or other person suggests these mergers to Congress.
Additionally, the committee recommended the creation of a National Center for Clinical Research & Research Resources.
The 14 recommendations are: 1. Assure that centralization of management functions will not undermine NIH's ability to identify, fund, and manage the best research and training; 2. Create a public process for considering proposed changes in the number of NIH institutes or centers; 3. Strengthen the overall NTH clinical research effort through consolidation of programs and creation of a new leadership position; 4. Enhance and increase trans-NIH strategic planning and funding; 5. Strengthen the Office of the NTH Director; 6. Establish a process for creating new OD offices and programs; 7. Create a Director's Special Projects Program to support high risk, high potential payoff research; 8. Promote innovation and risk-taking in intramural research; 9. Standardize level-of-investment data and information management systems; 10. Set terms and conditions for IC director appointments and improve IC director review process; 11. Set terms and conditions for the NTH director appointment; 12. Reconsider the special status of the National Cancer Institute; 13. Retain integrity in appointments to advisory councils and reform advisory council activity and membership criteria; 14. Increase funding for Research Management and Support.
The full text of the report is available to read online at http://www.iom.edu.