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NIH Scientific Management Review Board Holds Teleconference on SBIR and STTR

June 1, 2012—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) May 29 held a teleconference featuring updates from NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and SMRB Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Working Group Chair Solomon Snyder, M.D.

 Dr. Collins provided the board with an update on the status of three previous SMRB recommendations accepted by NIH leadership, including reforming the NIH Clinical Center; creating a new institute that consolidates substance use, abuse, and addiction research; and establishing the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

SMRB Chair Norman Augustine and other board members praised NIH’s expediency and responsiveness, especially in establishing NCATS.  Dr. Collins also updated the board on the NCATS’ new pilot program for rescue and repurposed pharmaceuticals [see Washington Highlights, May 4]. 

He noted that more pharmaceutical firms have contacted NIH with proposals to contribute experimental compounds.  Further details will be released with the pilot program RFA in June.  A new RFA on the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program will also be released in June.

Dr. Solomon then provided an update on the status of the SBIR/STTR working group. He explained that while most of NIH focuses on fundamental knowledge, the two programs encourage small businesses to engage in federal research and development with the goal of commercialization. For this reason, the working group has found that more flexibility and a simpler application would improve the proposal process.

The group also found that reliable metrics for success and stronger peer review would help foster innovation. The group will continue to search for ways to improve the proposal process throughout the year.


Stephen Heinig
Director, Science Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0488


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