FASEB MAKES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OPTIMIZING THE CTSA PROGRAM Created by on 05/29/2012
The new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) issued a Request for Information on how it could better structure and position the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program to enrich the translational research pipeline. Formerly housed in the National Center for Research Resources, the CTSA program is now administered by NCATS and is seen as an essential component in meeting the center’s mission to accelerate the development of new therapeutics.
In a letter to NCATS Acting Director Dr. Thomas Insel, FASEB recommended that the CTSA program continue to provide infrastructure support for the full spectrum of translational research, from bench to clinic to community and back. Because basic science lays the foundation for translation, FASEB noted, it is critical that NIH continue to support basic research and that the infrastructure, resources, and expertise developed through the CTSA program be made available to the basic science community.
FASEB also recommended that CTSA institutions be encouraged to develop their unique strengths, rather than being required to develop all of the translational research components specified in the programs last Request for Applications. Applicants should have the opportunity to define and justify the components that are necessary for supporting and advancing their institution’s specific translational research strengths, and NCATS should develop evaluation metrics to assess how well the institutions do that.
Drawing on FASEB’s recent report, Engaging Basic Scientists in Translational Research: Identifying Opportunities, Overcoming Obstacles, the Federation addressed some of the challenges to fostering translational research, as well as ways that NCATS, working through the CTSA program, could address them. FASEB suggested that NCATS encourage and support the creation of translational research training programs for basic scientists, continue to support the development of databases and networking tools to help researchers identify collaborators and expertise, make clinical and translational research resources supported by the CTSA program available to investigators who are not affiliated with a CTSA institution, and provide grant supplements that would allow basic investigators to extend their research findings into the translational research domain and enable clinical investigators to conduct laboratory work based on clinical findings. FASEB also emphasized the importance of clarifying, harmonizing, and streamlining federal human subjects protections regulations and engaging the patient community in translational research. FASEB’s letter is available here.