Obama digs NCATS

Sep 19 2011 Published by under NIH

Despite Congressional skepticism for Collins' plan to scrap NCRR in favor of a new translational Center:

Today, for example, my administration is announcing a new center that will help companies reduce the time and cost of developing lifesaving drugs. When scientists and researchers at the National Institutes of Health discover a new cure or breakthrough, we’re going to make it easier for startup companies to sell those products to the people who need them. We got more than 100 universities and companies to agree that they’ll work together to bring more inventions to market as fast as possible. And we’re also developing a strategy to create jobs in biotechnology, which has tremendous promise for health, clean energy and the environment.

I think that means this ship has sailed beyond the point of recalling, folks. Get used to it.

11 responses so far

  • Or perhaps this means Republicans will take joy in shooting it down.

  • David says:

    Maybe I am ignorant on how things are working out at "high levels". But I don't think that NCATS is about job creation. What I think is that NCATS is about giving a big hand and a big foot to big pharma companies into NIH and into the money that NIH gets from taxpayers. There are many other ways to implement job creation in general and not putting biomedical scientists out of work that are not contemplated, or are they not?

    Instead of playing around with disruptive, if not destructive, fantasies at NIH, let's think about the imminent problem we have right now with excellent scientists with excellent research proposals going unfunded due to harsh and exorbitantly low paylines.

    Just go to "medical writing, editing, grantmanship" and read the latest post on NCATS. There are 70 million dollars flying around that could land into the right place. We, as a community, should collectively claim them for the real purpose of helping paylines not for a "fantasy", uncertain and most likely jeopardizing one.

    If anyone has less confusing info, please correct me.

  • drugmonkey says:

    David, do you not think that "helping with paylines" is just furthering the problem of too many* scientists.

    *not in any objective sense of course. In terms of what taxpayers are willing and able to support.

  • David says:


    I am talking about helping exorbitantly low paylines, not mildly or unrestricted paylines. I am talking about investigators with proposals on the 10-15th percentile, whose proposals might be objectively indistinguishable from those in the 1-10th. I don’t know how well informed are taxpayers on biomedical funding needs, priorities and procedures. I, as a taxpayer myself, think that using 70 millions, at this critical moment, in funding 280 R01s (or 140 R01s + x counterpart mechanism for younger investigators) is a much responsible, solid and better investment for the present and future of the US than investing it in starting a “phantom center” to give a huge hand to big pharma.

    We are not talking here about a problem of too many scientists but about the reality of discouraging and/or decimating excellent biomedical science and substituting it for pharmaceutical interests in profits and wealthier stakeholders. Unfortunately, that’s the reality that nobody dares to talk about. And the idea that it takes a long time between a
    therapeutic invention and placing it on the market as a useful drug is very partially true. The experience shows that big pharma has kept putting on the market “new” expensive and unsafe drugs. The problem has been that they didn’t have time for thinking science but waste no time in thinking big profit, no matter the consequences on people. I don’t think that taxpayers are willing and able to support that.

    Let me ask: how much have the taxpayers benefited during the last 20 years from pharma inventions and investments?. And how much have the taxpayers benefited during the same period from taxpayers investments in NIH-funded biomedical research?.

    What’s the evidence supporting that things will be different in the future?

  • Drugmonkey says:

    David, since the total numbers of both investigators applying for awards and the number of grants funded are not changing as fast as the paylines (and we'll have to wait on the success rates of course) how can you conclude this is not being driven by too many mouths at the trough? How do we scale back the number of investigator? Why is not doing so going to be anything other than a continuing feed-forward problem?

  • RespiSci says:

    Making new drugs is challenging. It isn't just a simple matter of finding a cool molecule that can inhibit receptor X, but understanding the pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics and toxicology of the drug. You also have to investigate the process to manufacture the drug, establish its stability and integrity under various storage conditions and then upscale this manufacturing process for when you see that you have a winner on your hands. Designing and running clinical trials aren't a snap either. Take a quick look at clinicaltrials.gov and see how many trials it takes for a successful drug to proceed at each phase (and note # patients per trial and length of time it took to enroll all those patients). There are a lot of excellent scientists getting funded by the NIH but this doesn't mean that they understand what it takes to bring their drug candidate from the bench through to being an approved marketed drug.

    David, for your comment about "pharma has been putting on the market new..unsafe drugs", how do you envision the translation Center bringing in safer drugs when they would be answerable to the same FDA regulations as pharma?

  • fish says:

    $70 million would fund 35-50 R01 applications. Each grant costs roughly $1 million plus a nearly equal amount in overhead (on average). $70 million doesn't come close to helping to close the gap.

  • David says:

    yes fish. but if 70 millions are released every year from common funds until the economy gets better ever year and negotiate the overhead with institutions, won't you be able to fund many more than 30-50 R01s?

  • David says:

    Yes Fish. But if 70 millions are released every year from Common Fund until the economy gets better and negotiate overhead with institutions, won't you be able to fund many more than 30-50 R01s?.

  • becca says:

    "we’re also developing a strategy to create jobs in biotechnology, which has tremendous promise for health, clean energy and the environment."

    I wonder if this is how the people in Solyndra felt circa 2010?

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