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The NCATS 'Swamp'

In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe weighs in on NIH's proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, saying he’s concerned about Francis Collins' seemingly "gene-o-centric" view — particularly that the NIH director wants the new center to focus on the "black box that is the central nervous system." Lowe wonders how NCATS would take on this lofty task. "What worries me, though, is that I can't help but believe that a good amount of the work that's going to be done at this new center will be misapplied," Lowe says. "I'm really not so sure that the gene-to-disease-target paradigm just needs more time and money thrown at it." Though results from this sort of science are often published in big-name journals, they're still nowhere near those needed to inform drug development, he adds. If industry — which has invested years of research and billions of dollars and is motivated to make it all back — hasn’t made substantive headway in this arena, Lowe suggests that NIH’s effort "will, in all likelihood, add very little more."