AAMC News and Leadership Announcements, 2012 September 21

Here are the highlights from the current issue:

The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protections Programs (AAHRPP) has scheduled a webinar titled, “IRB Review of Research Involving Adults with Diminished Capacity to Consent,” on October 23 from 8:00-9:30 a.m. ET and repeated on October 25 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. ET. The session will describe the AAHRPP requirements for research involving participants with diminished capacity to consent, what researchers should know and plan for, and how IRBs should review and approve such research.

http://www.aahrpp.org/www.aspx?PageID=349

NIH on Tuesday posted the following notice of special interest to research administrators: “As NIH’s fiscal year comes to a close on September 30, 2012, NIH encourages grantee officials to verify the accuracy of the FY2012 award information reflected in NIH systems to ensure the most complete and accurate information is reflected in FY12 reports. Any corrections to the data must be received by 5:00 PM EST Thursday, October 4, 2012 to be reflected in NIH reports.”
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-12-155.html

The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday posted a new study that concluded, “Physicians discriminate among trials of varying degrees of rigor, but industry sponsorship negatively influences their perception of methodologic quality and reduces their willingness to believe and act on trial findings, independently of the trial’s quality. These effects may influence the translation of clinical research into practice.” The editor of the NEJM, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, wrote a related editorial. On Thursday, Pharmalot posted an essay by Harlan Krumholz, M.D., of Yale School of Medicine, on how industry can restore faith in studies it sponsors.
http://tinyurl.com/97u23sm
http://tinyurl.com/c6bg4lv
http://tinyurl.com/cskz8fx

Nature on Wednesday reported, “For researchers who rely on lab animals shipped from distant sources, and for the companies that breed them, the options are narrowing again. This week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will announce that it has obtained written assurances from the world’s two largest air-cargo carriers, FedEx and UPS, that they will not transport mammals for laboratory use. UPS says that it is also planning to further ‘restrict’ an exemption that allows the transport of amphibians, fish, insects and other non-mammals.” In a related editorial, Nature wrote, “The bid to halt air transport of lab animals poses an imminent threat to biomedical research.”
http://www.nature.com/news/lab-animal-flights-squeezed-1.11433
http://www.nature.com/news/return-to-sender-1.11429

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center on Friday announced the launch of “the Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented effort to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths.” According to an MD Anderson press release, “The program, initially targeting eight cancers, will bring together sizable multidisciplinary groups of MD Anderson researchers and clinicians to mount comprehensive attacks on: acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; melanoma; lung cancer; prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers – two cancers linked at the molecular level. Six moon shot teams, representing these eight cancers, were selected based on rigorous criteria that assess not only the current state of scientific knowledge of the disease across the entire cancer care continuum from prevention to survivorship, but also the strength and breadth of the assembled teams and the potential for near-term measurable success in terms of cancer mortality.” According to the release, “In the first 10 years, the cost of the Moon Shots Program may reach an estimated $3 billion. Those funds will come from institutional earnings, philanthropy, competitive research grants and commercialization of new discoveries. They will not interrupt MD Anderson’s vast research program in all cancers, with a budget of approximately $700 million annually.”
http://tinyurl.com/9h4p7bs

The National Institutes of Health announced on Wednesday it will invest $14.3 million this year, potentially investing more than $51.4 million over five years, to accelerate an emerging field of biomedical research known as metabolomics, the study of metabolites. Funding will come from the NIH Common Fund. Three Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Cores have been announced at the University of Michigan; UC, Davis; and the Research Triangle Institute. A Data Repository and Coordination Center (DRCC) has also being awarded to the University of California, San Diego.

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2012/od-19.htm.

Our colleagues at the American Society for Microbiology have posted a useful summary of a September 5 Federal Register notice in which NIH published final revisions to the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules that 1) modify the scope of the NIH Guidelines to cover explicitly certain research with synthetic nucleic acids, and 2) clarify the criteria for NIH review of research involving the introduction of therapeutic drug resistance into microorganisms.
http://tinyurl.com/9gkfg6j

And finally…The legendary Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday evening in Boston. The awards, which are in the 22nd year, “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.” Among this year’s awards: the neuroscience prize went to Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon; the literature prize went to the US government’s General Accountability Office, for issuing “a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports”; the anatomy prize went to Frans de Waal [The Netherlands and USA] and Jennifer Pokorny [USA] for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends; and the medicine prize went to Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [France] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.  The (Alfred) Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2012 is scheduled to be annouced on Monday, October 8th.
http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2012

The full list of announcements is below.

—–

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported on Wednesday that “Group Health Cooperative is reorganizing in the midst of grim financial results, with the resignation of its chief financial officer and a notice to employees that job cuts are down the road.” The paper further reported, “The Seattle-based health system needs to cut annual expenses by $250 million by the end of 2013, CEO Scott Armstrong said in an email to employees. Richard Magnuson, executive vice president and chief financial and administrative officer, is leaving in the next few weeks.”
http://tinyurl.com/cr8bb3t

The Boston Globe on Thursday reported that Boston Children’s Hospital “is eliminating 255 positions, about 2.6 percent of its 9,600 jobs, according to a memo sent to employees Wednesday by Children’s chief executive James Mandell and president Sandra Fenwick.” The article reported that the cuts were part of an effort to reduce $150 million from the hospital’s fiscal 2013 budget.
http://tinyurl.com/8cnjubu

Ten biopharmaceutical companies announced on Wednesday that they have formed a non-profit organization “to accelerate the development of new medicines.” Abbott, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Genentech a member of the Roche Group, and Sanofi launched TransCelerate BioPharma Inc. (TransCelerate), “the largest ever initiative of its kind, to identify and solve common drug development challenges with the end goals of improving the quality of clinical studies and bringing new medicines to patients faster.” According to a related press release, “Through participation in TransCelerate, each of the ten founding companies will combine financial and other resources, including personnel, to solve industry-wide challenges in a collaborative environment. Together, member companies have agreed to specific outcome-oriented objectives and established guidelines for sharing meaningful information and expertise to advance collaboration.” Garry Neil, a former VP at Johnson & Johnson, has been named interim chief executive of the collaboration, which will be headquartered in Philadelphia.
http://pharmalive.com/News/index.cfm?articleid=858012

Friday’s New York Times highlighted a recent Health Affairs study that shows that life spans for less educated whites in the US appears to be shrinking.
http://tinyurl.com/bmtmdu6
http://tinyurl.com/bnhxh4t

Friday’s Washington Post explored why many top hospitals were omitted from the The Joint Commission’s “Top Performers on Key Quality Measures” rankings.  The article reports that the Commission’s rankings The Commission “didn’t look at…cutting-edge research and the use of the latest medical technologies and treatments.”
http://tinyurl.com/cqxeya6

The House on Thursday failed to approve legislation that would reallocate U.S. visas to foreign nationals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math. The House GOP leadership brought the bill to the House floor under a process that required a two-thirds majority for passage. The controversy over the bill centered on a provision that would have eliminated a separate diversity visa program.
http://tinyurl.com/bvcj6d9

The lead story in Thursday’s issue of the New York Times focused on kidney transplants and the fact that one in five donated kidneys go unused. According to the article, “It is not precisely clear how often kidneys are discarded that might be useful. Last year 2,644 of the 14,784 kidneys recovered were discarded, or nearly 18 percent, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. About one-fifth of those discarded kidneys — nearly 500 — were not transplanted because a recipient could not be found.” The article reported “But many experts agree that a significant number of discarded kidneys — perhaps even half, some believe — could be transplanted if the system for allocating them better matched the right organ to the right recipient in the right amount of time. The current process is made inefficient, they say, by an outdated computer matching program, stifling government oversight, the overreliance by doctors on inconclusive tests and even federal laws against age discrimination. The result is a system of medical rationing that arguably gives all candidates a fair shot at a transplant but that may not save as many lives as it could.”
http://tinyurl.com/8zyfoel
http://tinyurl.com/9njjrkg

A new AAMC Issue Brief highlights the educational pathways of U.S. medical school applicants by exploring the number and type of undergraduate institutions these students attended. The authors, Douglas Grbic, Ph.D., of the AAMC, and Gwen Garrison, Ph.D., of the American Dental Education Association, show how these attendance patterns are associated with academic preparedness and eventual acceptance into medical school. Findings show that applicants who attended multiple undergraduate institutions have lower mean MCAT scores and lower acceptance rates to medical school. However, with regard to admission outcomes, findings also show that the number of institutions attended is of less importance than the type of educational institution that an applicant attended.
https://www.aamc.org/data/aib/

The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protections Programs (AAHRPP) has scheduled a webinar titled, “IRB Review of Research Involving Adults with Diminished Capacity to Consent,” on October 23 from 8:00-9:30 a.m. ET and repeated on October 25 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. ET. The session will describe the AAHRPP requirements for research involving participants with diminished capacity to consent, what researchers should know and plan for, and how IRBs should review and approve such research.
http://www.aahrpp.org/www.aspx?PageID=349

NIH on Tuesday posted the following notice of special interest to research administrators: “As NIH’s fiscal year comes to a close on September 30, 2012, NIH encourages grantee officials to verify the accuracy of the FY2012 award information reflected in NIH systems to ensure the most complete and accurate information is reflected in FY12 reports. Any corrections to the data must be received by 5:00 PM EST Thursday, October 4, 2012 to be reflected in NIH reports.”
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-12-155.html

The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday posted a new study that concluded, “Physicians discriminate among trials of varying degrees of rigor, but industry sponsorship negatively influences their perception of methodologic quality and reduces their willingness to believe and act on trial findings, independently of the trial’s quality. These effects may influence the translation of clinical research into practice.” The editor of the NEJM, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, wrote a related editorial. On Thursday, Pharmalot posted an essay by Harlan Krumholz, M.D., of Yale School of Medicine, on how industry can restore faith in studies it sponsors.
http://tinyurl.com/97u23sm
http://tinyurl.com/c6bg4lv
http://tinyurl.com/cskz8fx

The Boston Globe on Thursday report that the Massachusetts public health council on Wednesday approved “emergency regulations” that “weaken the state’s strict ban on gifts to health care providers.”
http://tinyurl.com/8nxzh4v

Nature on Wednesday reported, “For researchers who rely on lab animals shipped from distant sources, and for the companies that breed them, the options are narrowing again. This week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will announce that it has obtained written assurances from the world’s two largest air-cargo carriers, FedEx and UPS, that they will not transport mammals for laboratory use. UPS says that it is also planning to further ‘restrict’ an exemption that allows the transport of amphibians, fish, insects and other non-mammals.” In a related editorial, Nature wrote, “The bid to halt air transport of lab animals poses an imminent threat to biomedical research.”
http://www.nature.com/news/lab-animal-flights-squeezed-1.11433
http://www.nature.com/news/return-to-sender-1.11429

An article in Thursday’s issue of Inside Higher Ed discussed the recently proposed reorganization of some medical school-university organizational structures, as well as the desire of some established universities to add medical schools.
http://tinyurl.com/9qfsoxv

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center on Friday announced the launch of “the Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented effort to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths.” According to an MD Anderson press release, “The program, initially targeting eight cancers, will bring together sizable multidisciplinary groups of MD Anderson researchers and clinicians to mount comprehensive attacks on: acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; melanoma; lung cancer; prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers – two cancers linked at the molecular level. Six moon shot teams, representing these eight cancers, were selected based on rigorous criteria that assess not only the current state of scientific knowledge of the disease across the entire cancer care continuum from prevention to survivorship, but also the strength and breadth of the assembled teams and the potential for near-term measurable success in terms of cancer mortality.” According to the release, “In the first 10 years, the cost of the Moon Shots Program may reach an estimated $3 billion. Those funds will come from institutional earnings, philanthropy, competitive research grants and commercialization of new discoveries. They will not interrupt MD Anderson’s vast research program in all cancers, with a budget of approximately $700 million annually.”
http://tinyurl.com/9h4p7bs

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is sponsoring a competition for the most effective demonstration of how NIH, NSF, and other federally funded research improves the health, quality of life, or economy of local communities. The Federation says that it is looking for exhibits, events, or web-based outreach that highlights the value of NIH, NSF, and/or other federally funded research on local communities. Events or exhibits must be held or started before November 10, 2012. Final submissions must be received by December 1, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The grand prize is $10,000, with the runner-up receiveing $5,000, and honorable mentions $2,000.
http://www.faseb.org/contest

The National Institutes of Health announced on Wednesday it will invest $14.3 million this year, potentially investing more than $51.4 million over five years, to accelerate an emerging field of biomedical research known as metabolomics, the study of metabolites. Funding will come from the NIH Common Fund. Three Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Cores have been announced at the University of Michigan; UC, Davis; and the Research Triangle Institute. A Data Repository and Coordination Center (DRCC) has also being awarded to the University of California, San Diego.
http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2012/od-19.htm

Our colleagues at the American Society for Microbiology have posted a useful summary of a September 5 Federal Register notice in which NIH published final revisions to the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules that 1) modify the scope of the NIH Guidelines to cover explicitly certain research with synthetic nucleic acids, and 2) clarify the criteria for NIH review of research involving the introduction of therapeutic drug resistance into microorganisms.
http://tinyurl.com/9gkfg6j

Lisa A. Carey, MD, has been named Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of the N.C. Cancer Hospital, effective immediately. Dr. Carey, a member of the UNC faculty for more than ten years, is Richardson and Marilyn Jacobs Preyer Distinguished Professor in Breast Cancer Research, Professor of Medicine, Medical Director of the UNC Breast Center, and Associate Director for Clinical Research at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
http://tinyurl.com/d7kw2qy

Dr. Philip Lazarus, the founder and director of the Center for Pharmacogenetics at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, has been named chair the pharmaceutical sciences department at Washington State University’s College of Pharmacy.  Ms. Andrea Lazarus has been appointed assistant vice president for research clinical health sciences at WSU. She was an administrator at the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
http://tinyurl.com/c4obt8d

And finally…The legendary Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday evening in Boston. The awards, which are in the 22nd year, “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.” Among this year’s awards: the neuroscience prize went to Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon; the literature prize went to the US government’s General Accountability Office, for issuing “a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports”; the anatomy prize went to Frans de Waal [The Netherlands and USA] and Jennifer Pokorny [USA] for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends; and the medicine prize went to Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [France] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.  The (Alfred) Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2012 is scheduled to be annouced on Monday, October 8th.
http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2012

Tony Mazzaschi
AAMC

PS: Feel free to email <cas@aamc.org> if you have a problem accessing any article or resource mentioned in this summary. Also, have colleagues email <cas@aamc.org> if they would like to receive these news postings. We also welcome news tips and corrections.

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