HHS Logo U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Divider arrowNIH logo National Institutes of Health Alt desc
Skip Over Navigation Links

Director’s Corner

Nov. 29, 2016: NCATS’ Strategic Plan Sets Stage for Future Translational Science Advances

Christopher Austin

Five years ago, NCATS was established to catalyze a transformation in the way health interventions are developed and to bring more treatments to more patients more quickly. This required new fundamental principles and approaches to define the burgeoning field of translational science. Just as the understanding of cells and organs created a basis for the development of interventions for the diseases that affect them, so will the understanding of the translational process create a basis for more science-driven, predictive and effective intervention development for the prevention and treatment of all diseases.

This new science of translation is distinct in content, operations and culture. While this presents unique challenges in uncharted territory, it also provides us with unprecedented opportunities within the larger context of the biomedical enterprise. Encompassing many disciplines of science and operations, including biology, chemistry, informatics, pharmaceutics, engineering, medicine, public health, project management, team science, collaboration development and patient engagement, translational science defines the scientific and operational relationships among these fields, builds bridges and creates a network that leverages all stakeholders to more effectively develop and deliver interventions that benefit the health of the public.

NCATS has engaged in a broad internal and external consultation process to establish a strategic plan that conveys not only what we aspire to accomplish, but also the enormous potential and excitement of our field.  This has itself been a learning process, and our Center is much richer for the hundreds of contributors who have given us their best ideas, many of which you will read here.

We have organized the NCATS Strategic Plan according to conceptual themes of translational science, collaborations, training and stewardship. Within these themes are NCATS’ goals and specific objectives and strategies that exemplify best approaches. We are proud of what has been accomplished during the first five years of NCATS, as described in our Annual Reports. Our new strategic plan sets the stage for the Center’s future and will be a living document that will be adapted over time and as relevant to the changing needs in translational science.

NCATS is by design a different kind of scientific organization with a different kind of mission, epitomized by the word “translation” in our name, which is derived from Latin meaning “to carry across.” The science of carrying across from one field to another, from one part of the research ecosystem to another, to bring more treatments to more patients more quickly — this is the NCATS mission. We welcome all to join us in making this bold, collaborative and forward-looking plan a reality.

Christopher P. Austin, M.D.
Director
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences