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Strategic Planning for Supported Research

NIDDK uses multiple dynamic strategic planning approaches to build on scientific discoveries, pursue promising research avenues, and maximize the public investment in research. NIDDK has found that strategic planning for research is most effective when it is focused on specific research areas within its mission. The strategic planning approaches include:

  • formal plans and reports that incorporate input from scientific experts, the public, and patients
  • internal planning processes led by staff across NIDDK’s scientific research programs

NIDDK's strategic planning approaches lead to key outputs—including research solicitations that encourage high priority research—and complement the Institute’s support for investigator-initiated research. Investigator-initiated research is the largest category within NIDDK’s budget and is a major driver of innovation and critical to the NIDDK mission. Investigator-initiated research discoveries also inform the Institute’s planning efforts.

Formal Plans and Reports

NIDDK develops formal strategic plans, research progress reports, and burden of disease reports. Core elements of these strategic planning efforts often include

  • obtaining input from other NIH components and external stakeholders including non-NIH scientists, scientific professional organizations, health advocacy groups, health care providers, patients, and the public
  • considering the burden of illness and state-of-the-science in the areas being addressed
  • assessing basic, clinical, and translational research gaps, challenges, and opportunities
  • identifying research themes
  • developing goals, objectives, and strategies to advance research progress over several years (typically 5 to 10)
  • posting draft plans on the NIH website for a public comment period and then posting on the NIDDK and NIH websites in final form
  • distributing planning documents and related publications broadly, in venues such as the NIDDK website, press releases, and scientific journals

In general, the Institute initiates these planning efforts; however, efforts may also be recommended or mandated by Congress, or established by the NIH Director.

Internal Planning Processes

NIDDK also engages regularly in robust internal discussions to identify research opportunities and set priorities. These activities include:

  • NIDDK’s annual initiative concept development process, which requires NIDDK scientific program staff to review the research portfolio and identify scientific needs and opportunities
  • planning and prioritization activities by the NIDDK that occur in monthly meetings, retreats, and other activities of the Institute’s scientific Divisions, including consideration of projects for special emphasis funding (funding that is reserved for specific areas of research in a fiscal year)

Internal planning and the Institute’s formal plans and reports are also informed by:

  • input from NIDDK staff meetings with advocacy groups and societies
  • discussions at congressionally mandated interagency coordinating committees and subcommittees chaired by NIDDK (e.g., diabetes, kidney, urology)
  • feedback from the Institute’s National Advisory Council, a diverse body whose members are drawn from the broad research community and the public
  • research advances and opportunities published in the scientific literature and presented at national scientific meetings
  • scientific meetings and workshops, which can review progress toward strategic planning goals, periodically reassess the state-of-the-science, and seek expert input on newly emerging discoveries and technological approaches that may affect future research directions
  • trans-NIH working groups and committees focused on different diseases, conditions, and cross-cutting research areas
  • commission reports and activities, such as the report from the congressionally-mandated National Commission on Digestive Diseases (2009)

Outputs

As a result of its formal and internal planning activities, NIDDK generates a variety of outputs to ensure that plans are actively pursued to create new scientific knowledge and medical treatments. Outputs include:

  • promoting and disseminating formal reports and plans
    • For example, strategic plans and reports are posted and promoted on the NIDDK website and highlighted on social media channels to encourage research from investigators in the areas of opportunity identified through the planning process.
  • developing research solicitations (Requests for Applications, Program Announcements, and Requests for Proposals) that highlight priority research areas and encourage research in these areas
  • organizing scientific meetings and workshops
  • recommending projects for special emphasis funding