The NIH anounced today in The New England Journal of Medicine the creation of the Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) program. Essentially, the goal is to improve the rate at which research yields clinically relevant results as well as the implementation of said results.
The grants will encourage institutions to propose new approaches to clinical and translational research, including new organizational models and training programs at graduate and post-graduate levels. In addition, they will foster original research in developing clinical research methodologies, such as clinical research informatics, laboratory methods, other technology resources and community-based research capabilities. Potential benefits to patients include: new medical monitoring devices that they can use in their own homes; improved methods for predicting the toxicity of new drugs in specific individuals; and a seamless and safe experience for those who participate in clinical trials.
NIH plans to award four to seven CTSAs in FY 2006 for a total of $30 million, with an additional $11.5 million allocated to support 50 planning grants for those institutions that are not ready to make a full application. NIH expects to increase the number of awards annually so that by 2012, 60 CTSAs will receive a total of approximately $500 million per year. The CTSA program is an NIH Roadmap for Medical Research initiative and will be administered by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the NIH. Funding for the new initiative will come in part from the Roadmap budget and existing clinical and translational programs. This will be accomplished entirely through redirecting existing resources, including Roadmap funds.
For the purposes of this initiative, NIH is defining clinical research as studies and trials that involve human subjects. Translational research is to include two segments of the research continuum. The first is the process of applying discoveries made in the laboratory, testing them in animals, and developing trials and studies for humans. The second concerns research aimed at enhancing the adoption of best treatment practices into the medical community.