One year after launching the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has made significant progress toward accelerating the pace of discovery, according to a recent NIH announcement.
Newly funded projects aim to ramp up the efficiency of the medical research enterprise by orders of magnitude. Among these are innovative programs to train clinical researchers and to fund highly creative thinkers, a nationwide interconnected network of biocomputing centers, and projects supporting the development of a diverse battery of small molecules and imaging probes freely available to all researchers.
The scientific community's response to NIH Roadmap solicitations has been robust, yielding many more new grant applications than expected. In establishing the Roadmap, NIH purposefully intended to usher new researchers and new fields into the fold.
Team science is an underlying current of the entire NIH Roadmap effort. Such new approaches to research call for increased flexibility and innovative modes of scientific collaboration. Offering scientists from different fields equal status as funded investigators on certain joint projects is one way in which NIH is attempting to break down the walls that bar productive teamwork. Another method has been to modify NIH grant application instructions to eliminate fiscal disincentives of establishing consortia. And with the new NIH Director's Pioneer Award program, NIH has provided 5 years of funding to each of nine exceptionally creative people, encouraging these scientists to pursue their highly innovative ideas with unprecedented intellectual freedom.
Future initiatives include regional centers for translational research and specialized nanomedicine facilities. These …