AG Initiative: Not Business as Usual!
The NEI typically revises its national plan for vision research about every five years (see http://www.nei.nih.gov/strategicplanning/). The AG initiative is the first major expansion of planning and prioritizing at the NEI. The NEI director, Dr. Paul Sieving, in discussions with the National Advisory Eye Council (NAEC), decided that, in view of the extraordinary recent advances and opportunities, the time was right to boldly challenge the research community to establish one or more audacious goals to propel vision research forward. After a year, the NEI selected the AG and two high priority areas. Learn how NEI identified the AG and the two high priority research areas.
Next Steps and Changes to NEI's practices
NEI quickly issued two program announcements (PA), Molecular Therapy for Eye Disease and Intersection of Aging & Biological Mechanisms of Eye Disease. Each has an NEI scientific program director available to describe the program and answer questions. Like all applications submitted to the NEI, applications submitted to these PAs will receive a scientific review and then will be examined by the NEI staff and the NAEC for programmatic relevance.
However, since these are high priority areas, we established a new process so that applications submitted in response to these PAs will be specifically discussed and considered as a group at each NAEC meeting. This type of special consideration has never been instituted before for a scientific program and guarantees that we will be sure to identify unique opportunities and fund the very best science.
About the AG
Under the broad AG goal of Regenerate Neurons and Neural Connections in the Eye and Visual System, we will identify one or more specific targets. This will begin with a meeting of the AG Target Development Working Group consisting of several members of the NAEC and other scientists in the vision research community. The meeting will take place on Jan 22, 2014, and the conclusions will be reported the following day at the NAEC meeting in Bethesda, MD. Unfortunately, the government shutdown caused a cancellation of this meeting that originally was scheduled on Oct 16.
Unlike typical long-term goals found in NIH strategic plans, we intend to apply significant resources to maximize our chances of reaching the defined target(s) within about 10 years. To develop the best strategies, we will convene a second working group of subject matter experts to identify what knowledge and techniques are needed, the best approaches, milestones for success, and the types of investigative teams that will be required to rapidly advance the state-of-the-science toward our target(s). Yes, this is a bold attempt, to reach beyond our current capabilities, but the payoff is worth the risk. How Audacious!
Last Updated: October 2013