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NIH To Create New Translational Science Center

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins on Tuesday announced the agency is moving forward on plans to create a new research center focused on translational science, after NIH’s advisory board voted to create the new center, Science’s “Science Insider” blog reports (Kaiser, 12/7).

“The new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences would do some of the dirty work that pharmaceutical companies cannot or will not do, by taking promising but uncertain basic scientific findings out of the test tube and finding ways to use them to treat people, … Collins said,” Reuters reports. “The center would likely focus on rare diseases, as well as diseases common in the developing world, where drug companies cannot hope to turn big profits,” according to the news service (Fox, 12/7).

According to “Science Insider,” the translational sciences center “would house several existing programs at NIH, including the $113 million Molecular Libraries screening program, a $25 million effort called Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases, and NCRR’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA)” (12/7).

“Clearly we don’t want to compete with projects industry would be all over,” Collins said, according to Reuters. “If there is an obvious target for a common disease, that is probably something we would not go after,” he explained.

Reuters continues, “one early project may involve asking drug companies to give NIH access to failed compounds to see if they could be ‘re-purposed’ for other diseases, [Collins] said” (12/7).

“Collins expects to send his recommendation for the new translational center to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who will forward it to legislators. Congress will have 180 days to object; otherwise, the new institute will move forward,” according to “Science Insider” (12/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.