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NIH Push for Drug Development Center Opens Debate

By January 24, 2011December 5th, 2023Awareness

This weekend the New York Times featured an article on the efforts of National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins to set up a new center at NIH that is focused on developing drug treatments. The unit – to be called the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences – could fill a valuable niche in advancing promising drug therapy ideas that come out of research labs, to a stage where industry might want to invest in taking these ideas to the market. In many ways this is a genius plan that could for conditions like neurofibromatosis build on what NIH foundations like CTF  have funded, but give them the extra fuel to propel them into the marketplace. The Center could also be a training ground for the increasing number of young scientists who want focussed careers on actually finding drug treatments for diseases.

Many are asking why NIH, a federal agency,  would get into ‘business’; and will the $1B investment anticipated divert funds that would otherwise go to academic researchers to pursue their research? The reality is this initiative is still to be fleshed out, so we don’t yet have a full picture as to how it would function.  But with industry looking for new drug ideas, and with many Foundations like CTF endeavoring to bridge the gap to bring drugs to the clinic, this initiative could herald a welcome sea change at NIH that might bring benefit to many persons living with conditions which like neurofibromatosis that have no current treatments.