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NCRR's Five-year Plan Pushes Translational Research, Informatics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Center for Research Resources’ goals for the next five years include enhancing its capacities and advancing technologies for translational research, expanding its informatics programs, and building up the research workforce, according to the center’s strategic plan for 2009-2013.
After a strategic planning forum last December that included contributions from “hundreds of investigators and administrators across the biomedical research community” and the National Advisory Research Resources Council, the NCRR has drafted its strategic plan and is seeking comments from interested parties about it.
In the report, the NCRR said its aim differs from much of the National Institutes of Health, as it concentrates on “translational efforts [that] often focus on overcoming roadblocks that impede the progress of clinical research” rather than on funding research directly.
As an example, the NCRR expects that in fiscal 2008 it will spend roughly 92 percent of its nearly $830 million support budget funding grants that underwrite research infrastructure at academic medical centers and universities, compared with 8 percent of its funding to research project grants.
The NCRR plans to build up its capacity to translate biomedical research through several strategic efforts.
The agency will support efforts to encourage quality and efficiency in the conduct of clinical research; engage communities in clinical and translational research; engage minority research centers and Institutional Development Awards communities as equal partners within, across, and beyond programs and institutions; demonstrate return on investment in clinical and translational science; provide investments in information technology to facilitate collaboration and participation.
To develop new technologies to advance translational research, the NCRR plans to expand and ensure the development of technologies to support translational research; integrate biomedical technologies into clinical research activities; develop affordable and flexible technologies that can be applied to translational research; and develop areas of expertise and knowledge especially at the crossroads of mathematics, physics, and medicine.
Informatics solutions are an “overarching theme that permeates all the strategies and areas” in the NCRR plan, the agency said, and it plans several strategies to advance underserved communities. NCRR plans to take steps to: facilitate more information sharing among biomedical researchers; encourage institutions to provide informatics tools to clinical and translational investigators; support training in core competencies in informatics for biomedical researchers; and develop an online resource knowledge community.  
To build and enhance the research workforce, NCRR plans to: ensure a multidisciplinary group of translational researchers; promote recruitment, training, advancement, and retention of new investigators in clinical and translational research; expand opportunities to train biomedical researchers in advanced technologies; increase the number of qualified research veterinarians and make sure they are viewed as partners in translational research; and encourage students to pursue biomedical research careers and educate the public about healthy living.
More information about the NCRR’s strategic plan is available here and comments can be submitted here. Comments must be submitted by April 23.

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