The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced in a press release the establishment of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a center dedicated to the translation of scientific discoveries into new drugs, diagnostics, and devices. The establishment of the new center came as a result of Congress’ approval of the fiscal year 2012 spending bill and the president’s signing of the bill, which contained a budget of $575 million for NCATS.
The budget for NCATS is primarily derived from a reallocation of funds from the NIH Office of the Director, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the National Center for Research Resources. According to the release, NIH does not expect the establishment of NCATS to adversely affect funding for basic or applied research.
The following programs will comprise NCATS:
- Bridging Interventional Development Gaps, which makes available critical resources needed for the development of new therapeutic agents
- Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which fund a national consortium of medical research institutions working together to improve the way clinical and translational research is conducted nationwide
- Cures Acceleration Network, which enables NCATS to fund research in new and innovative ways
- FDA-NIH Regulatory Science, which is an interagency partnership that aims to accelerate the development and use of better tools, standards and approaches for developing and evaluating diagnostic and therapeutic products
- Office of Rare Diseases Research, which coordinates and supports rare diseases research
- Components of the Molecular Libraries, which is an initiative that provides researchers with access to the large-scale screening capacity necessary to identify compounds that can be used as chemical probes to validate new therapeutic targets
- Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases, which is a program to encourage and speed the development of new drugs for rare and neglected diseases.
NCATS aims to be a national center for catalyzing innovations in translational science, and will collaborate with partners in regulatory, academic, nonprofit, and private sectors to identify and overcome hurdles that slow the development of effective treatments and cures. NIH Director Francis S. Collins, said in the release, “Patients suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases do not have the luxury to wait the 13 years it currently takes to translate new scientific discoveries into treatments that could save or improve the quality of their lives. The entire community must work together to forge a new paradigm, and NCATS aims to catalyze this effort.”