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Second Opinion

Learn about policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals, with Executive Vice President Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D.

Washington Highlights

NCATS Advisory Council and Cures Acceleration Network Board Discuss CTSAs

September 27, 2013—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Advisory Council and the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board Sept. 16 convened for the fourth time since the center’s inception. Participants discussed the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) evaluation and recommendations for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, which currently supports 61 consortia, most centered on academic medical centers, and comprises 85 percent ($461 million in FY 2012) of the center’s budget.

Alan Leshner, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and co-chair of the IOM review committee, called for NCATS to take a more active leadership role in the program and to foster more collaborations among the CTSA institutions themselves and with industry and patient organizations.

The committee also recommended that the CTSA consortia continue to examine the full spectrum of translational and clinical research (including, for example, community engagement), but reiterated that individual CTSAs can focus on specific strengths and advantages, such as those that are complementary to the program as a whole.  Sharon Terry, president and chief executive officer of the Genetic Alliance and a member of the NCATS Advisory Council, was the other co-chair for the IOM committee.  AAMC Chief Scientific Officer Ann Bonham, Ph.D., also served on the committee.

Additionally, NCATS Director Christopher Austin, M.D., led a discussion of an NIH-wide initiative on reproducibility and transparency in the reporting of study data.  The initiative is designed to address a major concern about a number of published studies, particularly in translational research, for which results are not able to be reproduced, or for which there is not enough information to reproduce the study.

Dr. Austin noted that this is an especially critical issue for NCATS, given its reliance on the literature to identify new candidate targets for further research and translation.  In NIH and others’ examinations of these issues, many instances of irreproducible results appear to be the result of poor study design.  The council noted that better training and enhanced oversight and supervision by mentors, institutions, publishers, and funding agencies would address many of these concerns.

Contact:

Stephen Heinig
Director, Science Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0488
Email: sheinig@aamc.org

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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.


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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806
Email: jkleinman@aamc.org