Weeks after deciding to trim one of its 27 institutes and centers, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is now looking at creating a new center focused on translational medicine. An advisory board will vote on the proposal next week.
According to slides from a 10 November advisory board teleconference, the new center would take advantage of the growing number of potential drug "targets" emerging from basic research labs at the same time that drug companies are cutting back on research and development. The center's purpose would be to "expand and augment the agency's effort in developing new therapeutics."
It would house several existing programs at NIH, including a small molecule-screening program, an effort to develop drugs for rare and neglected diseases, and NIH's Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which are big grants that support clinical research at academic medical centers. The center would also fold in the Cures Acceleration Network, a drug development program created by the health care reform bill. It would have strong ties to NIH's intramural Clinical Center, an underused, 240-bed facility that advisers say NIH should open up to outside scientists.