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NIH Plans to Establish Translational Medicine Centre

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) voted in December to establish the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a new Center devoted to translational medicine. The new Center could receive funding as early as October of this year, the start of the US government's 2010 fiscal year. The creation of the new Center represents one of the most significant changes in the history of the NIH.

NIH Director, Francis Collins, is expected to present a plan for NCATS to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the spring of 2011. In the meantime, there is much speculation as to how a new Center may be implemented and what implications a new Center will have on the existing NIH framework. It is anticipated that the new Center will house the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). The CTSAs, which are presently held by 55 centers nationwide, represent roughly $500 million in funding and are currently administered as part of the NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) in Bethesda, MD. The overall NCRR budget is roughly $1.3 billion, and it is unclear what implications the development of NCATS may have for the NCRR's continued operation. Additional speculation is being raised regarding future funding for the NCATS. At the present, some elements of the new Center are slated for funding from the NIH director's discretionary 'Common Fund,' and are therefore not permanent NIH budget items.

For up-to-date information, and to submit questions and comments pertinent to the development of NCATS, visit http://feedback.nih.gov/. According to the website, current translational science programs at NIH will continue "at full force" during the transition period. It is also noted that the new Center is intended to complement current translational research efforts of the other Institutes and Centers, not …

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