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July 29, 2003

Running Time: 0:55:56
Format: RealAudio (Requires free RealPlayer)

Despite the undeniable success of the National Institutes of Health as the world's largest supporter of biomedical research and training, important organizational changes are needed at the agency for it to meet future challenges effectively, says a new report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In particular, changes are required to allow NIH to devote additional resources to innovative interdisciplinary research that reflects strategic objectives and cuts across all of the agency's institutes and centers, said the committee that wrote the report. Also, Congress should establish a formal process to review and act on specific proposals for changes in the number of NIH institutes and centers, which currently total 27. This process should be used to study two mergers favored by the committee: the combining of the National Institute on Drug Abuse with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences with the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Harold T. Shapiro, President Emeritus and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. and Chair, Committee on the Organizational Structure of the National Institutes of Health.