Policy Corner: NIH to Create Translational Science Center

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week that they are moving forward with a plan to create a new center focused on translational science. NIH Director Francis Collins called the decision “a momentous occasion” and projects that creating the center could be completed in about one year.

The center, which was proposed by NIH’s Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB – a panel established by the 2006 NIH reauthorization bill), would comprise the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program (currently part of the National Center for Research Resources), along with translational research and resources programs such as the Molecular Libraries Program, Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases, Rapid Access to Interventional Development, NIH-FDA partnerships and the recently created Cures Acceleration Network. Creating this center was recommended by the Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (TMAT) working group, a subset of SMRB that includes seven directors and senior members of the scientific community.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) was notified of this at their Dec. 6 board meeting. ACSM is a member organization of FASEB. The next step is to send this recommendation for the new translational center to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. If she approves, she must notify the U.S. Congress, which will have 180 days to reject the recommendation.

In other news – FASEB is organizing a symposium on engaging basic scientists in translational research. The meeting will be held March 24-25, 2011 and will be hosted by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at their Headquarters in Chevy Chase, MD. FASEB has invited up to two ACSM members to participate in the meeting in addition to any ACSM members serving on the meeting’s steering committee. As the goal is to explore ways that research institutions, funders, professional societies and scientific publishers can encourage and facilitate the participation of basic scientists in translational research, it would be helpful to FASEB if ACSM could suggest members engaged in basic research. If you have any suggestions of individuals in the early stages of their research careers (e.g., post-doctorates, research fellows and assistant professors), please contact Sean Keefer, director of government relations and health policy, at skeefer@acsm.org.