The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was officially established in fiscal year 2012 to transform the translational science process so that new treatments and cures for disease can be delivered to patients faster. NCATS, one of 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs) at NIH, strives to develop innovations to reduce, remove or bypass costly and time-consuming bottlenecks in the translational research pipeline in an effort to speed the delivery of new drugs, diagnostics and medical devices to patients.
Translation and Translational Science
Translation is the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public — from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes.
Translational science is the field of investigation focused on understanding the scientific and operational principles underlying each step of the translational process.
NCATS studies translation on a system-wide level as a scientific and operational problem. Learn more about translation.
The NCATS Approach
NCATS is distinct in many ways; it focuses not on specific diseases, but on what is common among them and the translational science process. The Center emphasizes innovation and deliverables, relying on the power of data and new technologies to develop, demonstrate and disseminate improvements in translational science. In these ways, NCATS is serving as an adaptor to enable other parts of the research system to work more effectively. NCATS complements other NIH ICs, the private sector and the nonprofit community.
- Developing new approaches, technologies, resources and models
- Demonstrating their usefulness
- Disseminating the data, analysis and methodologies to the community
Collaborations among government, academia, industry and nonprofit patient organizations are crucial for successful translation; no one organization can succeed alone. To this end, NCATS leads innovative and collaborative approaches in translational science that are cross-cutting and applicable to the broad scientific community.
Center Organization & Background
NCATS' organization of divisions and offices spans the entire spectrum of translational science. Through programs in its Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation, the Center drives advances in early stages of the translational process, from target validation to first-in-human studies. Through its Division of Clinical Innovation, NCATS supports clinical and translational research, creating and sharing the expertise, tools and training needed to develop and deploy effective treatments in people. Our cross-cutting programs in rare diseases, translational technologies, strategic alliances and other emerging areas address common scientific and organizational barriers to enable faster and more effective interventions that tangibly improve human health.
Mission: to catalyze the generation of innovative methods and technologies that will enhance the development, testing and implementation of diagnostics and therapeutics across a wide range of human diseases and conditions.
Founding vision: published July 6, 2011, in Science Translational Medicine.
- Reengineering Translational Science: The Time Is Right
- NIH Director's Podcast (MP3 - 6:22, 5.83MB)
- NIH Director's Podcast Transcript
Advisory bodies: provided guidance and strategic counsel during the formation of NCATS.
- ACD-NCATS Working Group. Composed of leading independent experts, this working group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) has provided input on how NCATS might partner with the private sector as well as contribute to the translational research enterprise as a whole.
- NIH CTSA/NCATS Integration Working Group. Composed of NIH leadership, this group made recommendations to the NIH Director on how Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program would be integrated into NCATS.
- ICD-NCATS Working Group. Composed of NIH Institute and Center Directors (ICD), this group has made recommendations to the NIH Director about the mission, functions and organization of NCATS.
- SMRB. NIH's Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) recommended that NIH create a new translational medicine and therapeutics center. View the December 2010 Report on Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (PDF - 644KB).