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Frequently Asked Questions About the NHGRI Reorganization

Why is NHGRI proposing to restructure its internal organization?

The changes that NHGRI has will align the institute's functional units with the scientific opportunities identified in its 2011 strategic planPDF file for genomics research. Through the new structure, NHGRI will better be able to manage the complex suite of research programs within the institute's expanding research portfolio. This is a natural step for the institute as genomics research expands beyond the original singular focus on the Human Genome Project, which served as the basis for much of the existing organizational structure, to clinical applications of genomics.

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Is this reorganization connected with the new strategic plan for genomics research published in February 2011?

Yes. The 2011 strategic plan articulated a contemporary vision for the future of genomics as a field and described a path towards implementing genomic medicine. In the nearly 12 months since the publication of that Nature article, NHGRI has made major steps towards identifying the scientific opportunities and challenges for the institute en route to achieving this vision. Through this process, it has become clear that to maximize the effectiveness of our extramural research program, we must modernize our organization to more accurately reflect the scientific aims being pursued. .

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Will the reorganization affect the research that NHGRI funds?

No. NHGRI funding and program priorities will continue to follow the opportunities and objectives laid out in the 2011 strategic plan, as they have done since its publication. The organizational changes will simply provide a management structure more suitable for the research agenda that the institute is now pursuing.

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Was there be an opportunity for the public to comment on the changes to NHGRI's structure?

Yes. Interested individuals participated in two public meetings intended to collect feedback and comments about the changes. The first meeting was held on January 18th, 2012. The second meeting was held in conjunction with a meeting of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research on February 13th, 2012.

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Will these changes affect the percentage of funds that goes to the extramural research program?

No. The percentage of institute funds directed to the extramural research program will not be affected by the changes.

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How will the changes affect current grantees?

Funding for current grants will continue without interruption. It is possible that for a small number of grantees, the primary NHGRI staff member with whom they interact on a regular basis might change. In such circumstances, the grantees will be notified.

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Will this reorganization affect the current funding of grants?

No. The reorganization will not have any effect on the current funding of grants.

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Will the changes affect how grants are awarded in the future?

No. The funding mechanisms by which NHGRI awards grants will not change because of the reorganization.

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Is this reorganization a response to possible budget cuts to NHGRI?

No. The purpose of the reorganization is to align better NHGRI's structure with its complex and diverse research portfolio. The reorganization is not being pursued because of any anticipated budgetary changes.

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What are the biggest changes relative to how NHGRI is currently organized?

NHGRI proposes to move from a structure with three major components — Office of the Director, Division of Extramural Research, and Division of Intramural Research — to one with seven major components. There will be four divisions that together constitute the extramural research program — Division of Genome Sciences, Division of Genomic Medicine, Division of Genomics and Society, and Division of Extramural Operations. Further, two large offices that currently sit within the Office of the Director — the Office of Policy, Communications, and Education, and the Office of Administrative Management — will be converted to divisions. Another office with the current Office of the Director — the Office of Population Genomics — will be subsumed within the Division of Genomic Medicine. The Division of Intramural Research will remain essentially unchanged with its current organization of branches, sections, cores, and offices.

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Will this be the first time NHGRI has undergone such a major reorganization?

As the institute has grown from its 1988 origins as the Office for Human Genome Research, its internal organization has changed incrementally. However, the reorganization will be the most significant since the establishment of the institute, and reflects the substantial maturation of the field and the rapidly emerging opportunities to apply genomics to medicine.

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Will this reorganization potentially result in staff being laid off?

No. The reorganization only involves the redeployment of existing how staff, but does not relate to the number of individuals needed to carry out the important work within the institute.

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Will the changes affect the activities of the intramural research program?

No substantial changes to the current organization of the Division of Intramural Research will occur with the reorganization.

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Last Updated: September 9, 2012