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NHGRI Plans Six New Divisions Under Proposed Reorganization

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Human Genome Research Institute on Wednesday proposed a broad restructuring plan that would establish six new divisions in an effort to keep pace with its evolving research portfolio.

The proposed plan would expand NHGRI's current structure, which comprises two divisions and the Office of the Director, to seven divisions.

Under the new plan, NHGRI plans to break its Division of Extramural Research into four new divisions: the Division of Genome Sciences, the Division of Genomic Medicine; the Division of Genomics and Society; and the Division of Extramural Operations.

The Office of the Director, meantime, would be split into two divisions: the Division of Policy, Communications and Education; and the Division of Management.

The Division of Intramural Research will remain "essentially unchanged" under the new plan, NHGRI said.

"All organizations evolve over time," NHGRI Director Eric Green said in a statement. "In 1988, NIH created the office that became NHGRI to manage a single project: The Human Genome Project. Today, NHGRI runs some two-dozen named projects and myriad unnamed research initiatives. We need a management structure that is suitably configured for our current research portfolio — the proposed reorganization will provide that."

The biggest impact of the reorganization will be on the Division of Extramural Research, which "currently comprises a single organization with numerous functions, from announcing funding opportunities to organizing collaborative agreements between institute program managers and research organizations to conducting peer review management and issuing grants," NHGRI said.

The four proposed divisions created from the Extramural Program would divvy up these responsibilities:

• The Division of Genome Science would oversee basic genomic research, technology development, and major projects such as large-scale sequencing.

• The Division of Genomics Medicine would head efforts to advance genomic technologies and clinical applications and care. It would also house the Office of Population Genomics, which currently resides in the Office of the Director.

• The Division of Genomics and Society would conduct research into societal issues relevant to genomics research, and would include and add to the current activities of the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications program.

• The Division of Extramural Operations would manage extramural research operations, including grant-making, reviews of applications, and grants management.

The two new groups formed out of the Office of the Director, meantime, would handle administrative activities:

• The Division of Policy, Communications, and Education would manage activities such as policy setting, legislative affairs, media relations, and educational outreach.

• The Division of Management would handle administrative management services within the institute from budget planning to purchasing and space management and personnel.

The reorganization is in line with a strategic plan that NHGRI began developing in 2008. Last year, it issued a report, "Charting a Course for Genomic Medicine from Base Pairs to Bedside," outlining its broad plans.

In the plan, Green and Mark Guyer, NHGRI's deputy director and director of the Division of Extramural Research, laid out five core areas that require advancement understanding genomic structures; understanding basic genome biology; understanding disease biology, advancing the science of medicine, and improving the effectiveness of healthcare.

NHGRI has scheduled two upcoming meetings to unveil its reorganization plans to the public, including a webinar and teleconference on Jan. 18 and an open session of the already scheduled meeting of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research on Feb. 13.

NHGRI is also soliciting comments on the reorganization at [email protected].

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