National Institutes of Health Developing the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

July 11, 2011

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By José Merino, MD, Science Editor of AAN.com

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is developing the new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to facilitate the translation of basic biological discoveries into therapeutic applications. This center will unite and realign NIH programs that focus on translational research, such as the Clinical & Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, the Components of the Molecular Libraries Program, the program on Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases, the Rapid Access to Interventional Development, the Office of Rare Diseases Research and the NIH-FDA Regulatory Science Initiative.

The mission of the NCATS is to catalyze the generation of innovative methods and technologies that will enhance the development, testing and implementation of diagnostic, therapeutics, and devices across a wide range of human diseases and condition. The new center will promote high-risk, high-yield translational innovation that will identify new therapeutic targets and new treatments for many our patients.

In a paper published last week in Science Translational Medicine, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, explains the motivation and his vision for the NCATS. This center will positively impact neurologic researchers and patients afflicted by neurological disease. Genome-wide association studies, individual genome sequencing, and methods to evaluate proteomes, metabolomes and cellular pathways have identified molecular pathologic mechanisms in neurodegenerative disorders, multiple sclerosis, stroke, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. The NCATS will foster multidisciplinary research to develop and test new and existing agents that will target these mechanisms.