NCATS launches

In December, President Barack Obama signed an appropriations bill authorizing the new National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and setting its first budget at $576.5 million for fiscal year (FY) 2012. The new Center, proposed in 2010 by NIH director Francis Collins to support translational efforts has been controversial among scientists in academia and industry from the start. However, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) president Jim Greenwood calls it “potentially a good thing” for the biotech industry in terms of its avowed goal of moving therapeutic products more rapidly into the hands of doctors and their patients. “It's a work in progress—a good idea,” he says, but must be “done in the right way.” Ramping up federal support for translational research is “very important,” says H. Thomas Watkins, president and CEO of Human Genome Sciences in Rockville, Maryland, who now chairs the BIO board of directors. Although the bulk of funding for NCATS in FY 2012 is carved from established NIH programs, $10 million in new funds are allocated to its Cures Acceleration Network (CAN). The CAN program was established in 2010 to help bridge the so-called 'valley of death', between basic and clinical research. It is situated within NCATS and is authorized to issue grants to biotech companies.


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Fox, J. NCATS launches. Nat Biotechnol 30, 204 (2012).

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