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Collins Makes a Case for NCATS

Translation of recent biological discoveries into clinical applications has been plagued by "long timelines, steep costs, and high failure rates," writes National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins in a commentary in Science Translational Medicine. That's, he says, where the proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences would come in, to "offer researchers unparalleled opportunities for intense focus on the reengineering of the translational process, from initial target identification to first-in-human application of small molecules, biologics, diagnostics, and devices." Collins compares the creation of NCATS to the launching of the Human Genome Project, saying that a focus on translational science will enable the field to mature and develop comprehensive strategies, just as the Human Genome Project allowed the field of genomics to do.

NCATS has been beset by concerns. Researchers and policy-makers have criticized the shifting of NIH programs and elimination of the National Center for Research Resources to make way for NCATS as well as questioned the ability of NIH to do translational work. Collins says that NIH investigators have the expertise to do translation science as they have long been involved in clinical trials and beyond. "Opportunities to advance the discipline of translational science have never been better," Collins adds in his commentary.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.