The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Advisory Council and the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Review Board May 10 held a joint meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, MD. At the meeting, the Council approved the following four concept clearances: CTSA Collaborative Projects Program; Synthetic Technologies for Advancement of Research and Therapeutics (START); Non-PDMS Biocompatible Alternatives for Organs-on-Chips; and Universal Medium/Blood Mimetic for Use in Integrated Organs-on-Chips.
Christopher P. Austin, MD, Director of NCATS, presented several initiatives including the CTSA program’s new Center for Data to Health (CD2H) biomedical research informatics initiative to help make data, software, and other resources more accessible across CTSAs. Additionally, Michael G. Kurilla, MD, PhD, Director, Division of Clinical Innovations noted other CTSA program highlights, including that out of the Clinical Research Forum’s 2018 Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Awards, four were from CTSA programs.
Dr. Austin also provided updates about NCATS’s partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space on the Tissue Chips in Space initiative, which will use tissue chips at the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory to study the effects of the space environment on human health and disease. On a related note, the Council was informed that in early 2018, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, appointed Dr. Austin to serve as the new NIH liaison to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In this role, Dr. Austin will continue to advance the partnership between NIH and NASA in conducting space-related biomedical research.
Looking ahead, NCATS is co-sponsoring a workshop with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research to review gene therapy approaches, identify challenges, and discuss ways to accelerate gene therapy development to benefit patients with rare diseases. The Growing Promise of Gene Therapy Approaches to Rare Diseases workshop will be held August 20-21 at the NIH in Bethesda, MD.
The next joint meeting of the Council and the Review Board will occur September 27, 2018.