Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Collins' 'Signature Effort'

The New York Times calls the creation of the new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health the "signature effort" of Director Francis Collins. Collins tells the Times that he has been "frustrated to see how many of the discoveries that do look as though they have therapeutic implications are waiting for the pharmaceutical industry to follow through with them." The new center, though, will likely come at the cost of losing the National Center for Research Resources, which helps fund tools and instrument purchases. Nature's The Great Beyond blog notes that because a law limits the number of NIH institutes to 27, one must go in order to make way for the translational science center. Collins tells Nature that NCRR programs will be kept intact, though they'll be redistributed across NIH. The process to develop this new center has also gone quickly, prompting bloggers like Writedit to wonder why there seemed to be little input from stakeholders. Collins tells ScienceInsider's Jocelyn Kaiser that he had his "hands tied by statutory limitations" that prevented him from seeking public comment until NIH notified Congress of the plan. Their conversation continues:

ScienceInsider: It's not making sense to me that you cannot consult on it until you've notified [Congress], but that means you've made the decision without consulting with the community first.

FC: Well [laughs], this is the government, remember. It is very clear in the legislation that we can't actually make announcements or seek public input until Congress has been notified.

I grant you, that is a somewhat unfortunate circumstance. In my best of all worlds, I would have wanted to have the chance to have a lot more discussion about this before that kind of announcement.

Collins is also considering redistributing funds from other institutes to the new center, as Writedit notes. "There are some people that would say this is not the time to do something bold and ambitious because the budget is so tight," Collins says to the Times. "But we would be irresponsible not to take advantage of scientific opportunity, even if it means tightening in other places."

The Scan

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.