Organizational Changes Proposed at NIH

The National Institutes of Health are poised to undergo their first major reorganization in nearly a decade.  In a statement posted on the agency website on Nov. 18, Director Francis Collins described recommendations made by the NIH Scientific Management Review Board to merge the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism into a single entity focused on addiction.  According to Collins, the new institute, which would also include addiction-related programs currently in the 25 other institutes/centers at NIH, will “enhance NIH’s efforts to address the substance abuse and addiction problems that take such a terrible toll on our society.”

In addition, at its next meeting Dec. 7, the review board is expected to recommend the creation of a new translational research center focused on amplifying the connection between basic and translational research.  The new program would incorporate programs focused on clinical research, such as the Clinical and Translation Science Awards program (currently housed in the National Center for Research Resources), along with the recently authorized Cures Acceleration Network.  The proposal comes out of a review, conducted by the Translational Medicine and Therapeutics Working Group, which determined that so-called translational research “could benefit from a reorganization at NIH to capitalize on emerging scientific opportunities, recent changes in therapeutics development, existing resources and programs.”

No firm dates have been set for the proposed changes.  However, legislation passed in 2006 limits the number of institutes/centers at the NIH to 27, requiring NIH to perform a delicate balancing act to adhere to federal requirements.  It has been suggested that NCRR will be dissolved to accommodate the translational research institute/center.

What are your thoughts on these changes at NIH?  Will they affect your research?  Let us know!

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