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A Better Process

The role of the new — and contentious — National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences is to "develop, demonstrate, and then disseminate improvements" to the process of translating basic findings to the clinic, NCATS chief Chris Austin tells ScienceInsider. That process, he adds, is ruled by "trial and error" and "has never been subjected to the scientific method."

Critics of NCATS, like Roy Vagelos, the former CEO of Merck, say that the center won't be able to improve on pharma's processes. Austin, though, counters that NCATS isn't as tied to the bottom line. "I don't think it's a matter that companies haven't thought of these things. It's just that these are things which don't generate revenue in the near term," he says.

In addition, he tells ScienceInsider that his goal for NCATS is for it to improve the efficiency of the translational process, which will be gauged by a number of metrics.

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.