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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

Could Mix It Up

The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a plan that would allow for the mixing-and-matching of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and boosters, the New York Times says.

Closest to the Dog

New Scientist reports that extinct Japanese wolf appears to be the closest known wild relative of dogs.

Offer to Come Back

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the University of Tennessee is offering Anming Hu, a professor who was acquitted of charges that he hid ties to China, his position back.

PNAS Papers on Myeloid Differentiation MicroRNAs, Urinary Exosomes, Maize Domestication

In PNAS this week: role of microRNAs in myeloid differentiation, exosomes in urine, and more.