The federal 2012 fiscal year spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama before Christmas includes approval for National Institutes of Health (NIH) to form a new research center devoted to turning discoveries in the lab into new drugs, diagnostics, and devices. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), with a budget of $575 million, aims to overcome hurdles that slow the development of treatments and cures.
NCATS, debated in Congress and the research community for a year, will be the new home of several existing NIH programs covering preclinical and clinical-stage research. Thomas Insel, current director of National Institute of Mental Health, will serve as NCATS’s acting director. Kathy Hudson, deputy director for science, outreach, and policy at NOH, will serve as acting deputy director.
The budget for NCATS is financed by reallocations from the NIH director’s office, National Human Genome Research Institute, and National Center for Research Resources. NIH says it plans to maintain the current ratio of funding for basic and applied research, and focus NCATS on the creation of new tools and technologies, but not become an organization that itself develops new drugs.
NIH Director Francis Collins says NCATS plans to work with other stakeholders in the regulatory, academic, nonprofit, and private sectors and operate as a catalyst to improve the process of translating lab science into medical innovations. “The entire community must work together to forge a new paradigm,” says Collins, “and NCATS aims to catalyze this effort.”
Examples of collaborations between NCATS and other organizations include a partnership with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop new types of chips to test drug candidate samples faster and more efficiently before testing in humans. Another collaboration with FDA aims to accelerate development and deployment of better tools, standards, and processes for evaluating diagnostic and therapeutic products.
Hat tip: Science Insider
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