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Director's Corner

Director’s Corner

May 28, 2015: Building a Next-Generation CTSA Program

Christopher AustinA Japanese proverb says, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Solving the systemic and highly complex problems of translation will require that adage as a guiding principle.

Bottlenecks in the road to clinical translation threaten this promising future. We know how to sequence billions of DNA base pairs (the “letters” that make up DNA), but we still don’t fully understand what all those data mean biologically or how to manage the resulting volume of information. Solving problems like these requires greater interconnectedness, information sharing and data handling across the scientific community.

NCATS’ Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program is designed to address roadblocks that slow the development of much-needed interventions. Just as scientists must innovate to overcome the challenges of translating genome sequencing information into clinical decisions, the CTSA program must evolve to address the challenges and realities of today’s clinical and translational research ecosystem — all with the aim to get more treatments to more patients more quickly.

In continuing its work to evolve the program in this new era, NCATS released the Collaborative Innovation Awards funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) on April 2, 2015. Input from a broad range of stakeholders helped guide the development of this new FOA, which solicits proposals for innovative investigations among three or more CTSA hubs to develop, demonstrate and disseminate multisite experimental approaches that overcome translational barriers in science, operations and training to address high-priority translational science questions.

At NCATS, we are excited to build on the enormous strengths of the CTSA hubs to create a network of unprecedented scope and creativity, suited to the extraordinary challenges — and opportunities — that will turbocharge the translational process to the benefit of science and health.

Christopher P. Austin, M.D.
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences