On June 25, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report
reviewing NIH’s Clinical
and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program within the National Center
for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). In July 2012, at Congress’
direction, the NIH commissioned the IOM study to evaluate the CTSA Program.
Created in 2006, NIH's CTSA program
supports research by providing infrastructure, training opportunities, and
tools to bridge fundamental discovery with clinical research and to broaden
medical research to include research on clinical effectiveness, community and
patient engagement, evidence based implementation and dissemination.
IOM concluded the CTSA Program is “contributing
significantly to advancing clinical and translational research,” but identified
opportunities for NCATS to improve by:
the leadership of the CTSA Program and reconfiguring and streamlining the
CTSA Consortium, currently involving 61 academic medical centers;
on the strengths of individual CTSAs across the spectrum and formalizing evaluation
processes for individual CTSAs and the CTSA Program;
innovation in education and training programs;
community engagement in all phases of research; and
clinical and translational research relevant to child health.
NCATS Director Christopher Austin, MD, called the IOM
recommendations “compelling” and said he will implement them “immediately.” In
Dr. Austin referred to IOM report “as a roadmap” and emphasized that
partnership with NIH Institutes and Centers, as well as collaboration with “industry,
research networks, foundations, patient groups and community organizations will
accelerate translational and clinical research to the benefit of all.”
NCATS will assemble a working group of stakeholders to
advise on implementation, with immediate focus on “development of clear,
measurable goals and objectives for the program that address critical issues
across the full spectrum of clinical and translational research” and
streamlining the program governance by increasing NCATS’ direct leadership of the
CTSA program. However, Dr. Austin cautioned the CTSA Program would have to be
“right sized to fit the budget” as a result of sequestration.