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IOM Issues Recommendations to Catalyze the NCATS CTSA Program

June 28, 2013—The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a June 25 report that reviews the mission and strategic goals of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).  The IOM committee concluded that while “the CTSA Program is contributing significantly to advancing clinical and translational research,” NCATS should:

  • Strengthen the leadership of the CTSA Program and reconfigure and streamline the CTSA Consortium, currently involving 61 academic medical centers;
  • Build on the strengths of individual CTSAs across the spectrum and formalize evaluation processes for individual CTSAs and the CTSA Program;
  • Advance innovation in education and training programs;
  • Ensure community engagement in all phases of research; and
  • Strengthen clinical and translational research relevant to child health. 

At a June 25 press briefing, NCATS Director Christopher Austin, M.D., stated that he found these recommendations to be compelling and has made the decision to implement them immediately. 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.

In his statement, 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.” In response to a question about CTSA funding, Austin acknowledged sequestration’s impact on all NIH programs and said that the “[CTSA] Program will have to be right sized to fit the budget we have.”

Created in 2006, NIH's CTSA program supports T1 through T4 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. Individual CTSA grants are awarded for 5 years, with a total budget of $461 million in 2012.

In July 2012, at Congress’ direction, the NIH commissioned the IOM study to evaluate the CTSA Program. Ann Bonham, Ph.D., AAMC Chief Scientific Officer, served on the IOM committee.


Irena Tartakovsky, M.D.
Director, Constituent Engagement
Telephone: 202-862-6134

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


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