Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) says the National Institutes of Health should not yet be searching for a director for the proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, reports ScienceInsider. Rehberg chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Health and Human Services budget. In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rehberg writes that he is "very troubled" to hear that NIH has initiated a search for an NCATS director. "It seems premature to take these steps in advance of an official presidential request, let alone requited congressional action," Rehberg writes. "I suggest NIH cease all action related to establishing NCATS until the President submits a formal request and congressional action is completed." In addition Rehberg says he is worried about the effect NCATS will have on the Institutional Development Awards and the Clinical and Translational Science Awards. Other lawmakers have also previously expressed concerns about NCATS.
NIH tells ScienceInsider that the agency is drawing up its response to the letter. "While we need to start our search for outstanding leaders, we will not hire an NCATS director until NCATS has been formally established," says NIH spokesperson John Burklow.