Today, the Institute of Medicine released a report on improving the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program. Established in 2006, the CTSA program is now administered by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and provides funding to over 60 institutions around the nation for improving training and education in clinical and translational research among other activities.
The IOM praised the work of the CTSA program for “reshaping clinical and translational research” at member institutions and building “a national network that has the potential to catalyze further progress.” The review concludes “that the CTSA program is contributing significantly to the advancement of clinical and translational research and is therefore a worthwhile investment that would benefit from a variety of revisions to make it more efficient and effective.”
The IOM panel went on to make seven specific recommendations to improve the functioning of the CTSA program within NCATS.
- NCATS should provide strong leadership for the CTSA program including establishing measurable goals for the CTSA program, facilitating collaborations with other institutes at the National Institutes of Health and disseminating best practices learned by the program.
- The leadership of the CTSA program should integrate with NCATS leadership to provide NCATS with more opportunities to provide oversight and direction for the program.
- Build on the strengths of the CTSA program which include teaching team-based approaches to research, improving public outreach and building relationships with industry.
- Formalize and standardize evaluation of individual CTSAs and the entire program.
- Regarding training and education, the CTSA program should “emphasize innovative education and training models and methodologies” and widely disseminate successful practices.
- Regarding community engagement, NCATS should clearly define the expectations for public outreach at the individual CTSA level and for the program as a whole.
- Regarding child health research, NCATS should take advantage of the program set up by the CTSA program to strengthen clinical and translational research directed at child health.
Stay tuned to the Blotter for updates on the functioning of the NIH and other science policy issues.