Policy ForumFunding Transdisciplinary Research

NIH Roadmap/Common Fund at 10 years

Science  18 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6194, pp. 274-276
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255860

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Summary

A fundamental challenge facing all institutions of science, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is whether their structures and disciplines, inherited from the past, continue to reflect the reality of current science and the needs of future science. Without an explicit process of adaptation to changes that often transcend established scientific structures and disciplines, the risk of missing emerging opportunities grows. This is why, 10 years ago, NIH launched an approach to the support of science that transcended all Institutes and Centers, known as the “NIH Roadmap” (1). The NIH Director and the Director of each of the NIH Institutes engaged in a broad priority-setting exercise, informed by extramural and intramural NIH scientists, public representatives, and leaders from other government agencies and the private sector. We asked three questions: What are today's most pressing scientific challenges? What are the roadblocks to progress and what must be done to overcome them? Which efforts are beyond the mandate of one or a few institutes, but are the responsibility of NIH as a whole? Each of the initial Roadmap programs that emerged was designed to achieve defined goals or transition to other sources of support within 10 years. As we have reached the 10th anniversary of these programs, a look back is in order.

  • * Present address: Sanof , 75008 Paris, France.

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