National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., has announced a new program designed to spur the transformation of clinical and translational research in the United States, so that new treatments can be developed more efficiently and delivered more quickly to patients.
“We are truly at a crossroads in medicine,” Zerhouni said. “The scientific advances of the past few years, such as the completion of the Human Genome Project, dictate that we act now to encourage fundamental changes in how we do clinical research, and how we train the new generations of clinician scientists for the medical challenges of this century.”
The Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) program, unveiled in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), is designed to energize the discipline of clinical and translational science at the academic health centers around the country.
The grants will encourage institutions to propose new approaches to clinical and translational research, including new organizational models and training programs at graduate and post-graduate levels. In addition, they will foster original research in developing clinical research methodologies, such as clinical research informatics, laboratory methods, other technology resources and community-based research capabilities. Potential benefits to patients include: new medical monitoring devices that they can use in their own homes; improved methods for predicting the toxicity of new drugs in specific individuals; and a seamless and safe experience for those who participate in clinical trials.
For the purposes of this initiative, NIH is defining clinical research as studies and trials that involve human subjects. Translational research is to include two segments of the research continuum. The first is the process of applying discoveries made in the laboratory, testing them in animals, and developing trials and studies for humans. The second concerns research aimed at enhancing the adoption of best treatment practices into the medical community.
The CTSA program will encourage the development of the discipline of clinical and translational science by providing the resources for the creation of a redefined academic home. The program will allow for local flexibility so that each institution can determine whether to establish a center, department, or institute, or other interdisciplinary structure, depending upon local and regional circumstances.
The Request for Applications (RFA) calls for submissions by March 27, 2006. Initial awards are expected to be made by Fall 2006. The RFA is available at www.ncrr.nih.gov.
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