must have a reasonable level of confidence in the sustainability of research funding if they are expected to focus their laboratories, staff, and students on research issues relevant to space exploration. The committee concluded that:
• In accord with elevating the priority of life and physical sciences research, it is important that the budget to support research be sufficient, sustained, and appropriately balanced between intramural and extramural activities. As a general conclusion regarding the allocation of funds, an extramural budget should support an extramural research program sufficiently robust to ensure a stable community of scientists and engineers who are prepared to lead future space exploration research and train the next generation of scientists and engineers.
• Research productivity and efficiency will be enhanced if the historical collaborations of NASA with other sponsoring agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, are sustained, strengthened, and expanded to include other agencies.
Improving the Process for Solicitation and Review of High-Quality Research
Familiarity with, and the predictability of, the research solicitation process are critical to enabling researchers to plan and conduct activities in their laboratories that enable them to prepare high-quality research proposals. Regularity in frequency of solicitations, ideally multiple solicitations per year, would help to ensure that the community of investigators remains focused on life and physical science research areas relevant to the agency, thereby creating a sustainable research network. The committee concluded that:
• Regularly issued solicitations for NASA-sponsored life and physical sciences research are necessary to attract investigators to research that enables or is enabled by space exploration. Effective solicitations should include broad research announcements to encourage a wide array of highly innovative applications, targeted research announcements to ensure that high-priority mission-oriented goals are met, and team research announcements that specifically foster multidisciplinary translational research.
• The legitimacy of NASA’s peer-review systems for extramural and intramural research hinges on the assurance that the review process, including the actions taken by NASA as a result of review recommendations, is transparent and incorporates a clear rationale for prioritizing intramural and extramural investigations.
• The quality of NASA-supported research and its interactions with the scientific community would be enhanced by the assembly of a research advisory committee, composed of 10 to 15 independent life and physical scientists, to oversee and endorse the process by which intramural and extramural research projects are selected for support after peer review of their scientific merit. Such a committee would be charged with advising and making recommendations to the leadership of the life and physical sciences program on matters relating to research activities.
Rejuvenating a Strong Pipeline of Intellectual Capital Through Training and Mentoring Programs
A critical number of investigators is required to sustain a healthy and productive scientific community. A strong pipeline of intellectual capital can be developed by modeling a training and mentoring program on other successful programs in the life and physical sciences. Building a program in life and physical sciences would benefit from ensuring that an adequate number of flight- and ground-based investigators are participating in research that will enable future space exploration. The committee concluded that:
• Educational programs and training opportunities effectively expand the pool of graduate students, scientists, and engineers who will be prepared to improve the translational application of fundamental and applied life and physical sciences research to space exploration needs.