NIAID Council—Our Chief Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council (NAAIDC) embodies a diverse perspective on science, health, and the human impact of disease. Its 18 voting members include 12 health or science experts and 6 lay members. Members usually serve for four years and members can extend 180 days if their successor has not been appointed.

Six nonvoting, ex officio members provide liaison with higher level agencies or organizations having missions consistent with that of NIAID, including the secretary, HHS, and representatives from the Department of Defense, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Council's scientists contribute technical expertise and an understanding of the needs of the research communities of academia and industry. To supplement this knowledge in specialized fields, NIAID also invites ad hoc members.

Lay Council members impart a perspective of people affected by diseases in the NIAID research mission.

Each Council member also belongs to one of the three Council subcommittees—AIDS, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, and Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation, corresponding to NIAID extramural divisions.

Council breaks up into separate subcommittee meetings to do much of its work. Discussions of specific research areas often take place in the subcommittees.

What Council does

As required by law, chartered advisory committees, including the councils, are part of every NIH institute. NIAID Council plays four key roles:

  1. Performing second-level review
  2. Advising NIAID on policy
  3. Reviewing programs
  4. Developing and clearing concepts for program announcements, request for applications, request for proposals, and broad agency announcements

Policy is usually discussed by the full Council. NIAID often seeks Council's advice before changing policies for training, health information dissemination, administration, budget, and other areas.

The subcommittees conduct most other business. During program reviews, the subcommittees advise NIAID on a program's effectiveness in meeting Institute goals and the needs of the scientific fields it supports.

Second-level review

The second level of peer review is a core charge of Council. As part of the process, members perform an early, expedited review of applications that are within the payline and have no special issues that NIAID staff or Council need to resolve.

Applications needing special consideration are reviewed by Council subcommittees in the closed session as described below.

Expedited second-level review takes place electronically eight weeks before a Council meeting.

All Council members have access to the NIAID Electronic Council Book, which contains peer review results including summary statements. Three Council members, one from each of the three NAAIDC subcommittees, perform expedited peer review; the full Council ratifies the results at the Council meeting.

What happens at Council meetings

Council meets in September, January or February, and May or June. Its activities are driven partly by the budget and appropriation cycle. For example, discussions in September reflect NIAID's level of funding at the beginning of the fiscal year.

In the morning, the subcommittees meet individually to review applications needing special consideration, discuss selective pay nominations, and recommend MERIT awards.

Then, the NIAID Director convenes the full Council and presents scientific and administrative topics for discussion, often including staff or outside speakers.

That session is followed by a short, closed meeting of the full Council to discuss and formally approve subcommittee recommendations for funding applications.

The afternoon is devoted to the subcommittee meetings, focusing on scientific and programmatic topics relevant to the divisions.

The Division of AIDS has a unique structure. The AIDS subcommittee and additional scientific and public representatives form another congressionally mandated body, the AIDS Research Advisory Committee (ARAC). ARAC meets in the afternoon at the same time as the other subcommittees.

Find the latest agenda at NIAID Council Agenda.

Concept clearance

NIAID seeks Council's advice for long-term planning of potential future NIAID initiatives. Council members and ad hoc advisors counsel the Institute on broad research priorities and directions, providing the perspective of the outside community.

Minutes from Council meetings are online at Council Meeting Minutes. To learn more about the concepts Council approves, read Concepts: Potential Opportunities.

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