NICHD Vision Process update: Institute continuing to accept comments until July 15

The process will chart an ambitious but achievable scientific vision for the NICHD and its research communities

On June 23-24, NICHD Director Alan Guttmacher continued to move forward with the Institute’s Vision Process by hosting a meeting of external scientists and stakeholders to identify areas of scientific opportunity that might have been overlooked in the nine white papers that emerged from the workshops held earlier this year. The Vision Process was announced in 2010 to identify the next decade’s most promising scientific opportunities across the Institute’s diverse research areas, including behavior, cognition, development, plasticity, diagnostics and therapeutics, reproduction, developmental origins of health and disease, and pregnancy. The desired outcome of this process is a Vision Statement that will chart an ambitious but achievable scientific vision for the NICHD and its research communities.

Participants identified numerous areas that were not highlighted in the white papers, which will be incorporated into the overall Vision Statement. As many recommendations looked to leverage work in genetics, epigenetics, stem cell technology and biomarkers that could predict behavior, some participants warned against taking a reductionist approach. A number of recommendations across the breakout groups highlighted the need for expanding scientists’ understanding of environment beyond the physical environment to fully examine health risks and health disparities, decision-making, how disabled individuals engage in society, and the impact of technology on cognition and behavior. Additional recommendations included characterizing normal development trajectories across the lifespan, developing common measure of behavior across datasets, examining how social interactions affect the developing brain, defining the critical periods of development when treatments are most effective. Presentations from the breakout groups can be viewed at the webcast of the meeting. Given the additional feedback generated during the meeting, Guttmacher decided to continue to accept public comments on the white papers until July 15. Comments can be emailed to NICH Dvision.