Environmental Factor, July 2005, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NIEHS Director Launches Strategic Plan Initiative
By Blondell Peterson
In launching his first broad initiative, David Schwartz encouraged all employees to go to the NIEHS Junction site and answer six questions that can help set priorities for environmental health initiatives at the Institute. Schwartz invited members of the public and all interested parties to provide feedback as well.
"As many of you are aware, we're in the process of developing a strategic plan for our Institute," Schwartz said during his first formal address to NIEHS after being sworn in June 24 at the Rall Building. (See related story) "We want to develop a plan that breaks down divisional barriers and better integrates scientific disciplines," he said.
Schwartz said the "transparent, inclusive and candid" initiative will be conducted in the open, and will be responsive to the present and future needs of the environmental science field.
To that end, a notice was posted in the Federal Register and a web site was established to get input from scientists, the general public and all interested parties. The web page feedback form consists of six questions, and can be found at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/external/plan2006/home.htm.
The questions are:
- What are the disease processes and public health concerns that are relevant to environmental health sciences?
- How can environmental health sciences be used to understand how biological systems work, why some individuals are more susceptible to disease, or why individuals with the same disease may have very different clinical outcomes?
- What are the major opportunities and challenges in global environmental health?
- What are the environmental exposures that need further consideration?
- What are the critical needs for training the next generation of scientists in environmental health?
- What technology or infrastructural changes are needed to fundamentally advance environmental health science?
According to Schwartz, the strategic plan will take advantage of the evolving nature of science and the opportunities it brings, including the use of non-mammalian models such as fruit flies and budding yeast and developing high-throughput bioassays to more rapidly and efficiently screen environmental exposures.
"In October, we'll host a large strategic planning meeting here at NIEHS, and I hope to have a draft of our strategic plan for you to review in the fall," Schwartz said.