From the Director | What's New at NCATS? | Research Opportunities Volume 03 • Issue 05 • September 12, 2014

Director's Message

Christopher Austin

Understanding the characteristics and course of diseases in people, investigating the effectiveness and safety of new treatments, and devising ways to get treatments to all the people who need them are just some of the issues addressed in the clinical phase of the translational process. Clinical translation is inefficient and poorly understood, leading to many lost opportunities for health improvement. Through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, NCATS is tackling the system-wide issues that limit efficiency in clinical translation.

Read more of the latest Director's Message.

Christopher P. Austin, M.D.

What's New at NCATS?

CTSA Program Funding Opportunity Now Available

Improved Disease Model Leads to Potential Therapy for Rare Disorder

Tox21 Researchers Analyze Thousands of Chemicals for Potential Negative Health Effects

NCATS Participates in New NIH Program to Find Potential Drug Targets

Small Businesses: Apply Now for Contract Funding

Upcoming Events

NCATS in the News

Collaborate with NCATS Scientists

UPenn doctors conducting sonogram of patient.

CTSA Program Funding Opportunity Now Available

On Sept. 12, 2014, NCATS released a new funding opportunity for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, a national network of medical research institutions collaborating to transform how clinical and translational science is conducted nationwide. Applications are due Jan. 15, 2015.

CTSA hubs — the medical research centers that make up the CTSA network — support high-quality clinical and translational research locally, regionally and nationally, fostering innovation in training, collaboration and new methodologies.

Read the full announcement and apply to RFA-TR-14-009! Applicants can join a technical assistance webinar on Sept. 17, 2014.

The interior of a specialized white blood cell, or macrophage, is depicted with a number of spherical lysosomes. A lysosome in the foreground is enlarged by an accumulation of a fatty substance called glucocerebroside, characteristic of Gaucher disease. The illustration depicts the introduction of a chemical chaperone into the lysosome that allows the fatty contents of the lysosome to be degraded and eliminated from the lysosome.

Improved Disease Model Leads to Potential Therapy for Rare Disorder

Too many potential drugs fail in human clinical trials despite early promise in animal or cell models of disease. A major area of emphasis at NCATS is the development of model systems for drug testing that more closely resemble human physiology. Recently, a team of researchers from NCATS and the National Human Genome Research Institute made a major advance in the understanding and treatment of the rare disorder Gaucher disease. They created a new disease model that not only helps identify treatments for Gaucher patients, but also is useful in studying other diseases. Read the full feature.

Tox21 robots at NCATS laboratories screen thousands chemicals.

Tox21 Researchers Analyze Thousands of Chemicals for Potential Negative Health Effects

Over time, people are exposed to thousands of chemicals in food, household cleaning products, medicines and the environment, yet little is known about the potential for these substances to be hazardous to human health. Using robots in NCATS' laboratories, researchers from the Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) consortium have developed faster, cheaper and more effective toxicity testing methods to explore these chemicals. Currently, Tox21 scientists are screening a library of more than 10,000 regularly used chemicals (Tox21 10K) — the largest analysis of its kind. Substances include pesticides, industrial chemicals, food additives and drugs. Already, the team has produced nearly 50 million data points that will provide information about the potential effects of the chemicals on human biological functions. Read the full feature.

DNA double helix with pill at center

NCATS Participates in New NIH Program to Find Potential Drug Targets

On July 31, 2014, NIH leaders announced a new collaborative initiative to improve human health by exploring poorly understood genes that have the potential to be modified by medicines. The effort is part of an NIH Common Fund three-year pilot project called Illuminating the Druggable Genome. For the initial phase of the program, NIH has allocated $5.8 million to eight institutions and for intramural resources. Read the NIH news release.

Meeting participants sitting at NCATS conference table

Small Businesses: Apply Now for Contract Funding

Through its Small Business Innovation Research program, NCATS is participating in 2015 contract funding opportunities for qualified applicants interested in developing innovative health technologies. The topics of interest to NCATS focus on developing innovative tools, technologies and intervention (drug, device, diagnostic) platforms that would support the creation of new therapeutics and/or diagnostics, especially for rare and neglected diseases. Apply to one of the NCATS topics by Nov. 5, 2014. NCATS topics begin on page 76 of the PDF solicitation.

Upcoming Events


CTSA Technical Assistance Webinar

NCATS will offer a technical assistance webinar for those interested in applying to CTSA funding opportunity RFA-TR-14-009 on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, from noon to 1:30 p.m. ET.

During the webinar, NCATS staff will review the funding announcement's purpose and objectives and address submitted questions. Submit your questions in advance. Participate in the webinar.

NCATS Advisory Council/Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Review Board Set to Meet September 19

On Sept. 19, 2014, NCATS will hold a joint meeting of the NCATS Advisory Council and the CAN Review Board on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The meeting will feature reports from NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D., and others about the Center's initiatives, policies, programs and future direction. For more information, visit the NCATS Advisory Council page and the CAN Review Board page of the NCATS website.


16th Annual NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Conference

The 16th Annual NIH SBIR/STTR Conference will take place Oct. 21–23, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event is designed to help small business representatives from the life sciences sectors learn more about approximately $700 million in annual NIH funding available to help forge academic partnerships and build new businesses based on recently developed biotechnology. Lili M. Portilla, M.P.A., director, NCATS Strategic Alliances, will participate. For more information, visit the event website.

Addressing Irreproducibility in Target Validation

On Oct. 23, 2014, the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will host a one-day conference to address a growing concern among scientists and the public, who contend that the complex system for ensuring the reproducibility of biomedical research is failing and is in need of restructuring. The conference is planned around a series of talks and panels by industry, academia and government scientists, as well as editors from leading journals, to lend perspective and brainstorm practical solutions.

NCATS in the News

Collaborate with NCATS Scientists

NCATS researchers are seeking collaborators in the following areas:

NCATS Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC)

NCGC is one of the centers in the Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN), which is an NIH Common Fund initiative. Through the MLPCN, NCGC offers biomedical researchers access to large-scale screening capacity along with the medicinal chemistry and informatics expertise necessary to identify chemical probe molecules and to study the functions of genes, cells and biochemical pathways. For inquiries or to obtain NCGC probe molecules, contact Ajit Jadhav.

NCGC researchers also seek collaborators for assay development and high-throughput screening, chemistry and chemistry technology, automation, and informatics. Learn more.

NIH RNA Interference (RNAi) Initiative

The NIH RNAi initiative, administered by NCATS, provides state-of-the-art, high-throughput RNAi genome-wide screens for humans and mice. This resource is available only to NIH researchers. Scientists interested in performing high-throughput RNAi screens can contact Scott Martin, Ph.D., for more information.

Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) Program

The Tox21 program aims to test 10,000 chemicals and evaluate their potential to cause health problems. Any investigator may propose the development of biological assays for high-throughput screening.

To suggest an assay, submit an assay nomination form to Menghang Xia, Ph.D. Proposed assays must be compatible with the high-throughput screening guidelines as described in the assay guidance criteria.

Research Opportunities and Announcements

Visit the NCATS Open Opportunities page for a complete list of funding and program announcements.

Clinical and Translational Science Award (U54) • RFA-TR-14-009

Request for Information (RFI): Input on Information Resources for Data-Related Standards Widely Used in Biomedical Science • NOT-CA-14-054

Implementation of the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy for NIH Grant Applications and Awards • NOT-OD-14-111

NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy • NOT-OD-14-124

Public Comments on Proposed Guidance Regarding Significant Changes to Ongoing Animal Activities • NOT-OD-14-125

Guidance on Significant Changes to Animal Activities • NOT-OD-14-126

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Contract Solicitation • PHS 2015-1

NIH Offers Commercialization Assistance Program to Phase II SBIR and STTR Awardees • NOT-OD-14-110

Platform Delivery Technologies for Nucleic Acid Therapeutics (R41/R42) • PA-14-308

Bioreactors for Reparative Medicine (R41/R42) • RFA-HL-15-004

Platform Delivery Technologies for Nucleic Acid Therapeutics (R43/R44) • PA-14-307

Bioreactors for Reparative Medicine (R43/R44) • RFA-HL-15-008

Onsite Tools and Technologies for Heart, Lung, and Blood Clinical Research Point-of-Care STTR (R41/R42) • RFA-HL-14-017

Onsite Tools and Technologies for Heart, Lung, and Blood Clinical Research Point-of-Care SBIR (R43/R44) • RFA-HL-14-011

We Want to Hear from You

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