Working Through the Transitions of NCRR and NCATS

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On December 23, NIH received our fiscal year 2012 appropriation and with it came the creation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the dissolution of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). This is the first major NIH reorganization in many years and with it comes exciting opportunities, as well as many administrative challenges that we will have to work through with you as we go forward.

With a fiscal year 2012 budget of $575 million and the goal of overcoming hurdles that slow the development of effective treatments and cures, NCATS will provide an enhanced opportunity for the extramural community to work together with the private sector, and the federal enterprise to speed the translation of basic research into clinical applications. To meet these goals, NIH is reorganizing a wide range of our translational science programs within NIH. The following programs are forming the foundation of 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

As we see, many of our NIH translational programs are finding a new home in NCATS, but exciting translational research is supported throughout NIH, so NCATS will have strong collaborative relationships with all of our institutes and centers. Also important to note, as Dr. Collins has previously pointed out, the creation of NCATS does not change our commitment to the basic research that serves as the foundation for our discoveries and advancements.

For those of you supported by NCRR, you have contributed mightily to the NIH mission and will certainly continue to do so from your new homes in NCATS, other NIH ICs, or the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs in the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, in the Office of the Director. I also want to take a moment to thank the staff at NCRR whose dedication to their organization and to the NIH was exemplary. Many will either be leading their programs from their new homes or are embarking on new responsibilities throughout the agency.

The various components within NIH, including OER, have been working diligently to ensure that NCRR grants and applications are transferred to their new homes with a minimum of disruption and that there is understanding of the fundamentals of standing up the new NCATS. The Guide notices posted today will help grantees and applicants understand how NIH will be transferring existing and pending awards and applications to other institutes or centers within NIH, and what it means for those of you interested in applying in the future to NCATS or to other ICs where your programs of interests now lie. We will be sending out notifications to PIs and institutional officials in the coming weeks with further information regarding applications and awards currently in the system.

As always, we want to be as informative as possible as we go forward with the reorganization, so expect to be hearing from us often.

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