NCATS at 10: Improving Health for All Through Translational Science

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In December 2021, NCATS marked 10 years of harnessing the power of translational science to speed solutions for many diseases at a time. Our mission is to remove or bypass scientific and operational obstacles that stand in the way of getting more treatments to more people more quickly. We do this by advancing translational science.

Translational science looks at the big picture to identify common pitfalls and develop innovative solutions, thus enabling promising discoveries to become real-world applications that improve people’s health. Our activities exemplify translational science principles, such as boundary-crossing collaborations, bold and rigorous approaches, and efficiency and speed.

To commemorate our 10-year anniversary and usher in the next decade of bold solutions, we hosted a virtual event on Dec. 7, 2021, from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST, to highlight how our innovative and team-science approach addresses unmet needs. Featured topics spotlighted the transformational power of data, novel approaches for de-risking a drug’s journey along the preclinical pathway, crosscutting solutions for many diseases, and high-impact innovations in clinical research. Speakers provided perspective on remaining roadblocks and new opportunities through conversations and lightning round talks. View the list of speakers.

NCATS uses translational science and state‑of‑the‑art technologies to tackle the toughest health challenges. We look forward to another decade of building bold solutions that break down barriers and bring more treatments to all people more quickly.
Joni L. Rutter, Ph.D.
NCATS Acting Director

Read more reflections about NCATS' impact.

Agenda Snapshot

2d illustration of head outline made of circuits. AI and software concept

Transformational Power of Data

Too often, research happens in silos because there is no infrastructure to link information in meaningful ways. This session focused on collaborative efforts, including Biomedical Data Translator and National COVID Cohort Collaborative, that connect disparate data to reveal patterns that can speed health research.


  • Christine Cutillo, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • Melissa A. Haendel, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Matt Might, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Anne R. Pariser, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
Human hand holding tissue chip to astronaut glove.

Enabling Promising Preclinical Candidates

About 95% of promising preclinical therapeutic candidates fail in human clinical trials. This session highlighted the roles of patients, researchers and clinicians, as well as technologies such as 3D bioprinting and tissue chips, in improving these odds.


  • Marc Ferrer, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • Esther Krofah, FasterCures and the Milken Institute Center for Public Health
  • Donald C. Lo, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • Sanath Ramesh, OpenTreatments Foundation
  • Danilo Tagle, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • Timothy Yu, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children's Hospital
Colorful group of paper cut outs shaped as people.

Many Diseases at a Time

Today’s drug development efforts focus on one disease at a time. Given the current pace, it will take centuries to develop treatments for the over 10,000 known diseases. This session focused on platform approaches that are changing the paradigm – and the timeline.


  • Philip John (PJ) Brooks, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • Edward Neilan, National Organization for Rare Disorders
  • Matthew D. Hall, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • Christina Hartman, The Assistance Fund
  • Peter Marks, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Doctor with mask and child in forefront, other doctors and patients in background.

The Future of Clinical Research

Improving health for all depends on making sure new treatments benefit the people and communities who most need them. This session featured perspectives from leaders within the CTSA Program who are pushing the boundaries of clinical research to reach people where they are.


  • Olveen Carrasquillo, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
  • Alejandra Hurtado de Mendoza, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Michael G. Kurilla, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • Wilbur Lam, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Eric Topol, Scripps Research Translational Institute
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Browse NCATS’ Resources on Translational Science


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