Final 11/12/13
Population Science Strategy: Towards a Creative Transformation of Epidemiology
2013 Council/BEE Working Group Charge
Within the context of budgetary constraints, the overarching goal of the NHLBI Council/BEE
Working Group on Epidemiology and Population Science is to define how Epidemiology and
Population Science research can be optimized by taking advantage of new tools/methods. In
order to meet this goal, the Working group will strive to address the following questions:
1) What should be the NHLBI’s long-term strategy for population science?
a. What scientific questions should be the primary focus, with the goal of improving
the health of the population and addressing contemporary disease burden?
b. What types of project domains and methods best enable us to address the
primary scientific questions of interest?
i. Propose a conceptual framework for the domains of epidemiology, such
as population vs. clinical; mega-scale vs. standard-scale;
outcomes/health services vs. etiological/discovery
ii. Propose possible approaches to balance the NHLBI’s support across
2) How should the NHLBI take advantage of new opportunities for epidemiology to address
the key scientific questions, and what should the balance be between developing new
opportunities and supporting well-established population science?
a. What gaps exist in NHLBI’s current portfolio of population science need to be
filled in order to meet the needs outlined above?
b. What should the balance be between supporting a large portfolio of investigatorinitiated grants or link onto or expand other existing infrastructures?
c. How should NHLBI increase its links with other ICs/agencies?
d. How should training of scientists be incorporated into the NHLBI’s current and
future portfolio of population sciences?
e. What approaches should be used to leverage new data sources such as
electronic health records (EHRs), existing registries, and other data sources to
capture outcomes and risk factors/predictors? How should the NHLBI support
research to evaluate the quality of information obtained from these new data
sources and track this over time? For which of the primary scientific questions of
interest are these approaches best suited?
3) What question or research priorities can be advanced by better integrating clinical
epidemiology and clinical trials?
a. What are the best practical approaches for integrating clinical trials with clinical
epidemiology within the context of the US health care system?
b. What methodological constructs can be learned from experiences in other
countries (e.g. Scandinavia) and from other funding agencies (e.g. AHRQ
DeCIDE, NIH Collaboratory, FDA Mini-Sentinel)? What are the gaps that need to
be addressed? Which of these constructs are transferable to the US health care
system and NHLBI?
c. Under what circumstances does this integration improve efficiency?
d. How should the NHLBI proceed with this, and if so, how can it promote the
streamlining of efficient clinical trials conduct?
e. What proportion of the resources should be directed in this way?
Final 11/12/13
4) How should the NHLBI quantify the success of individual projects in epidemiology and
population science?
a. How should we measure the success of new projects or approaches?
b. What is the appropriate comparator group?
5) Provide recommendations to the NHLBI director about what to do with the existing
NHLBI-contract funded cohort studies to improve their ability to address the scientific
questions of primary interest.
a. How should the NHLBI rebalance its population-studies portfolio in terms of %
contracted-funded cohort studies compared with investigator-initiated research or
new initiatives?
b. To what extent should the cohorts continue to exist independently, as compared
with becoming consolidated as part of a synthetic whole? If the cohorts should
mostly exist as a synthetic whole:
i. What should the objectives be of such a synthetic cohort?
ii. What are the key scientific hypotheses that can be addressed?
iii. What kind of scientific governance is most appropriate?
c. What should be the balance between the cohorts continuing to collect new data
versus curate existing data? If new data collections are done:
i. How should optimal timing and intensity be determined?
ii. Should, and if so how, can novel data collections (e.g., mobile phones,
electronic health records, and other technologies) be incorporated and

Population Science Strategy: Towards a Creative Transformation of