Acting Director Thomas Insel explains new NIH translational center's aims and structure
January 12, 2012
This month the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began putting into place the biggest reorganization of the sprawling $30.6 billion enterprise in a decade. It is launching a new $575 million National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) that aims to tackle bottlenecks in drug development and speed the translation of basic discoveries into therapies.
The NCATS plan sparked much debate when it was proposed last year. Some industry scientists said they feared that NIH was moving away from basic research into drug development. Many researchers were also concerned about losing programs within another NIH center that was to be dismantled, the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). In the end, Congress allowed the changes but attached some conditions. For example, last month's spending bill that established NCATs requests several reports and outside studies of the center's activities and stipulates that it cannot support expensive, late-stage clinical trials of the kind typically done by industry.
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