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Stories and Publications

Feature Stories

NCATS programs and initiatives are enabling scientists to transform the way research discoveries are turned into new tools, methods and treatments. A collection of these stories and other items of interest are featured below.

View NCATS features by year:

2017

NCATS Trial Innovation Network Investigators Tackling Clinical Trial Inefficiencies
Through NCATS’ new Trial Innovation Network, CTSA Program-supported investigators are working collaboratively to tackle inefficiencies in clinical trials.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, Trial Innovation Network

CTSA Program Mentoring Paves Way for Brain Cancer Therapy
CTSA Program mentoring support sparked an interdisciplinary translational research team that developed a potential therapy for brain cancer. 
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

CTSA Program Support Helps Talented Investigators Re-Establish Their Careers
CTSA Program support helped Anandi Krishnan, Ph.D., get back into a research career after taking a leave of absence to care for her child. 
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

From ER Physician to Translational Scientist via CTSA Program Support
CTSA Program hub (funded by NCATS) at UF helps physician pursue research project in sepsis patients.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

NIH, Academia and Patient Advocate Collaboration Speeds Niemann-Pick Type C1 Research
Patient-focused translational science collaboration among government and academic scientists, patients, and their advocates advances a potential treatment for the rare disease Niemann-Pick type C1.
NCATS Support: Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Disease

Unprecedented Trans-NCATS Collaboration Enables Rapid Advancement of Rare Lung Disease Therapy to Human Trials
aPAP is a rare lung disease with a difficult treatment. With this collaboration, Dr. Trapnell is optimistic that a potentially life-changing treatment is one step closer to benefitting patients.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, Office of Strategic Alliances, Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Disease

2016

NCATS-Supported Researchers Recruit Citizen Scientists to Help Mine Biomedical Literature
A team of bioinformatics scientists from the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) invented a web-based technology platform to arrange biomedical literature into a format that is easier for computers to organize and analyze.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

NIH I-Corps Training Helps NCATS-Supported Companies Find Their Way
The NIH I-Corps program is a collaborative effort to support the development and commercialization of biomedical technologies. It was expanded to focus on moving technologies developed through SBIR/STTR funding to the marketplace. NCATS is among 17 participating Institutes and Centers from NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NCATS Support: Small Business Innovation Research

CTSA Program Supports New Ultrasensitive Diagnostic Test Development
Stanford University researchers have developed a new test for diagnosing diseases, including thyroid cancer, HIV and type 1 diabetes. The method appears to be many times more sensitive than some traditional diagnostic tests, meaning that it potentially can detect illnesses earlier, enabling clinicians to treat patients sooner and possibly slow disease progression.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

NCATS Small Business Award Seeds App to Improve Medication Adherence
Too many individuals take their medications incorrectly or do not take them at all. A new smartphone application helps patients take the right medication at the right time. The artificial intelligence technology was developed with funding from an NCATS small business award.
NCATS Support: Small Business Innovation Research

Doctoral Students Use NCATS Resources to Investigate Promising Disease Therapies
Since 2012, the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program has enabled future scientists to work with NCATS researchers to explore the translation of promising new therapies for cancers and tuberculosis.
NCATS Support: NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program

CTSA Program-Supported Research Uncovers Genetic Components of Healthy Aging
Older adults often face aging-related ailments that can be costly and shorten lifespans. However, some people live long lives without encountering these common health problems. What sets apart healthy agers from their peers? Researchers at Scripps Translational Science Institute are conducting a study of the “Wellderly” to find out.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

CTSA Program Scholar Receives Prestigious NIH Grant
CTSA Program Scholar support enabled Ying Liang, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of toxicology and cancer biology at the University of Kentucky, to obtain her first NIH Research Project Grant (R01). The R01 grant will fund her research on the role of a protein called latexin in preventing cancer therapy-induced stem cell damage.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

CTSA Program Resources Help UCLA Scientists Visualize Key Enzyme in Cancer and Aging
CTSA Program resources help UCLA scientists produce clearest-ever image of key enzyme in cancer and aging. This knowledge could inform the development of anti-cancer and anti-aging therapies.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

NCATS Introduces Plans for New Single IRB Reliance Model
NCATS held a workshop on May 2, 2016, to educate participants about using its new single institutional review board (IRB) reliance model ― the NCATS Streamlined, Multisite, Accelerated Reliance for Trials (SMART) IRB Model ― for multisite clinical studies.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

CTSA Program-Supported Researcher Is Translating Laboratory Discoveries into Better Hearing for Cochlear Implant Patients
In 2015, Suhrud Rajguru, Ph.D., presented his work at a CTSA Program-supported translational research poster competition, in which he was among the winners. As part of his award, he participated in a course designed to help scientists move research innovations into commercial space.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Breathing Easier: First Treatment for Rare Lung Disease Approved
Research coordinated by The LAM Foundation and carried out with scientific partners in NCATS’ Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network culminated in the first treatment for lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
NCATS Support: Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network

NCATS' Small Business Funding Helps Launch New Platform for Rare Diseases Drug Discovery
A Ph.D. student at the University of Utah was developing an approach to screen existing drugs for their potential to treat a rare disease when he saw a way to expand that method into an enterprise to discover hundreds of treatments for thousands of diseases.
NCATS Support: Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer

2015

News Brief: Data Released on Drug Combinations to Treat Malaria
NCATS researchers tested and released data on thousands of combinations of known and newly identified drugs to potentially treat malaria.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center, Matrix Combination Screening

Modeling the Female Reproductive Tract in 3-D: The Birth of EVATAR™
Researchers are developing EVATAR™, a miniaturized 3-D representation of the female reproductive tract and liver on a handheld, interconnected platform for use in drug testing and to study the basic biology of female reproduction.
NCATS Support: Tissue Chip for Drug Screening

News Brief: NCATS-FDA Team Receives HHS Innovation Ventures Support to Crowdsource Information on Treating Tropical Diseases
The NCATS-FDA team recently received support from the HHS Innovation Ventures Fund — an HHS IDEA Lab program — to enhance the Web-based Collaborative Use Repurposing Engine (CURE). The highly competitive awards provide growth-stage funding and 15 months of mentoring as well as tools to help grow and sustain CURE.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center

Partnering with Disease Foundations to Speed Drug Discovery
Designing high-throughput screening assays is a science in itself. The team must have in-depth familiarity not only with assay technology but also with the target disease and its unique challenges. To increase the likelihood of success, postdoctoral researchers who are knowledgeable about specific diseases join project teams through fellowships sponsored by patient groups and foundations.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

Stopping Metastasis in Its Tracks: New 3-D Cell Model Enables Closer Look at Cancer Progression
NCATS and University of Chicago researchers worked together to create, adapt and validate an innovative 3-D ovarian cancer cell model used to identify small molecules that can prevent cancer cells from spreading to new sites in the body. The new model includes connective tissue cells and the extracellular matrix (a collection of supportive molecules outside cells), creating a more lifelike simulation of the human body environment. It represents an exciting advance in research technology.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center

News Brief: Allergy Drug Could Treat Hepatitis C
Recently, NCATS scientists, in collaboration with researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), discovered that an over-the-counter drug used to treat allergy symptoms also limited hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in human liver cells. The findings suggest that the drug, chlorcyclizine HCl (CCZ), potentially could be used to treat this chronic infection in people.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

NCATS Plate Washing Initiative Saves Money, Keeps Plastic Out of Landfills
High-throughput robots help researchers run screening experiments quickly and efficiently, but until recently, they produced a significant amount of environmental waste in the form of thousands of single-use plastic plates. With an innovative idea and a commercial dissemination partner, NCATS is changing that story and keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation, Small Business Innovation Research

NCATS Support Leads to Clinical Trial to Test Repurposed Cancer Treatment as Alzheimer’s Therapy
On March 31, 2015, NCATS announced that scientists at Yale University have found that a compound originally developed as a cancer therapy potentially could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Now the team is testing the compound’s effectiveness in humans.
NCATS Support: Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules

Tox21 Collaboration Generates an Innovative Platform for Testing Individual Differences in Chemical Sensitivity
A research team including NCATS scientists used the Center’s robotic screening capabilities to test the toxicity of 179 chemicals using cells from more than 1,000 people to investigate the range of human sensitivity to environmental chemicals.
NCATS Support: Toxicology in the 21st Century

Study Demonstrates Success of NCATS’ Rare Diseases Therapeutic Development Programs
A study found that two NCATS rare diseases programs have led to the reduced cost of developing new drugs and reduced financial risks.
NCATS Support: Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases and Bridging Interventional Development Gaps

CTSA Consortium Tackling Clinical Trial Recruitment Roadblocks
The CTSA Accrual to Clinical Trials initiative was launched to develop a nationwide network of sites that share electronic health record data to further multisite study feasibility and recruitment efforts.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Searching Saliva for Signs of Disease
ExRNA researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have found that saliva offers as many clues to a person’s health as blood. Now, they are using this information to develop a noninvasive diagnostic test for stomach cancer.
NCATS Support: Extracellular RNA Communication

2014

NCATS Repurposing Test Identifies 53 Drugs that May Block Ebola Infection
A team of researchers from NCATS and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai worked to approach the Ebola public health problem by testing existing drugs. The results yielded 53 drugs that may block Ebola virus-like particles from entering and infecting cells.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

NCATS Screening Technologies Enable Identification of Potential Treatment Target for Neurological Disorder
A recent advance made possible through a project collaboration involving NCATS experts, academic researchers, a patient advocacy group and a pharmaceutical company enabled a research team to identify a potential drug target for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

NCATS Science Featured at 28th NIH Research Festival
Researchers from NCATS and other NIH Institutes and Centers gathered at the 28th NIH Research Festival Sept. 22 – 24, 2014, to share insights on important scientific advances made by intramural investigators.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

Improved Disease Model Leads to Potential Therapy for Rare Disorder
A team of researchers from NCATS and the National Human Genome Research Institute made a major advance in the understanding and treatment for Gaucher disease, creating a new model that not only helps identify treatments for patients, but also is useful in studying other diseases.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center

Tox21 Researchers Analyze Potential Negative Effects of Thousands of Chemicals on Human Health
Find out how Tox21 researchers have developed faster, cheaper and more effective testing methods to analyze the effects of chemicals on human health.
NCATS Support: Toxicology in the 21st Century

Michael J. Fox Foundation Funds Research Project that Leverages NCATS Chemical Screening Approach and Resources
Researchers from NCATS and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke are leading a project that showcases how NCATS’ chemical screening resources can advance development of potential therapeutics for a broad range of diseases.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

Spotlight on Collaboration: A Journey From Biological Probes to Potential Therapeutics
Scientists at the NCATS Chemical Genomics Center work closely with academic, nonprofit and biotech researchers to pursue collaborative probe development projects, including the discovery of three novel small molecule chemical probes with the potential to treat diabetes, stroke and thrombosis.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center

NCATS Researchers Propose Innovative Approach to Test Drugs in Rare Diseases
Scientists often know little about the symptoms and biology of rare conditions, which adds to the complexity of designing drug studies. NCATS scientists have propose a new way to test drugs and develop better treatments for rare disease patients by targeting common molecular mechanisms across multiple diseases.
NCATS Support: Office of Rare Diseases Research

IRB Reliance: A New Model for Accelerating Translational Science
The institutional review board (IRB) review process can be especially cumbersome for researchers and IRB staff conducting multisite research. The CTSA Program is designed to encourage collaboration across institutions and to remove or minimize common translational barriers, such as those involved in IRB oversight.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Petra Kaufmann Joins NCATS as Clinical Innovation Director
On May 4, 2014, Petra Kaufmann, M.D., M.Sc., joined NCATS to direct its Division of Clinical Innovation.
NCATS Support: Office of the Director

Screening Platform Is a Launch Pad for Novel Treatment Combinations
NCATS and National Cancer Institute investigators published a collaborative study that demonstrated how a new combination drug screening platform developed at NCATS can quickly narrow down a long list of potential drug combinations to find those with the most potential to help patients.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

NCATS Welcomes McInnes and Zuk to Leadership Team
In January 2014, NCATS welcomed two new members of the Center’s leadership team. Pamela M. McInnes, D.D.S., M.Sc.(Dent.), is the NCATS deputy director, and Dorit Zuk, Ph.D., is the director of the Office of Policy, Communications and Strategic Alliances.
NCATS Support: Office of the Director

Tissue Chip Projects Highlighted in Major Journal
On Dec. 20, 2013, the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy published a supplement that provides an overview of projects funded through the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program.
NCATS Support: Tissue Chip for Drug Screening

Rare Diseases Research Advocate Retires
Stephen C. Groft, Pharm.D., director of the NCATS Office of Rare Diseases Research, announced his retirement effective Feb. 8, 2014. Groft leaves a legacy as a public servant for more than four decades and a tireless advocate for rare diseases research.
NCATS Support: Office of Rare Diseases Research

2013

Understanding the Brain’s Response to Sugar Could Help Treat Obesity
Yale researchers, supported in part by the CTSA Program at NCATS, have used imaging technology to look at how the brain responds to sugar. This approach could improve scientists’ knowledge of the brain’s role in obesity.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Five CTSAs Enable NIH-Funded Research on Innovative Allergy Therapy
Finding a new way to treat and possibly prevent the severest food allergy reactions could improve the lives of millions. A consortium of scientists at five institutions that receive NIH funding, including through NCATS’ CTSA Program, took up this challenge.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

NCATS Spotlight: Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) Program
Scientists lack data to predict how many chemicals affect our bodies and their potential for harm. The collaborative Tox21 program aims to test 10,000 chemicals and evaluate their potential to cause health problems.
NCATS Support: Toxicology in the 21st Century

NCATS and Johns Hopkins Researchers Identify New Therapeutic Strategy for Eye Diseases
The NCATS approach to speeding the development of diagnostics and therapeutics — based on innovation in how science is done as well as what is done — has led to dramatic success for a project on degenerative diseases of the retina.
NCATS Support: Assay Development and High-Throughput Screening, RNA interference

CTSA Resources Support Largest U.S. Newborn Screening Study for Fragile X Mutations
A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that more people have gene changes linked to Fragile X syndrome (FXS) than anticipated. Accurate and timely diagnosis by such newborn screening may enable early intervention.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

TRND Research Leads to NIH Trial to Test Drug for Niemann-Pick Type C1
Niemann-Pick disease type C1 is a rare, inherited disease characterized by progressive impairment of motor and intellectual functions in early childhood. NIH initiated a Phase I clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of cyclodextrin as a potential therapy. (See related story below.)
NCATS Support: Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases

NCATS Research Team Identifies Possible Treatment for Niemann-Pick Type C1
To help streamline the scientific process, NCATS is collaborating with government agencies, academic scientists, the pharmaceutical industry and patient support groups to find potential treatments for a rare disease called Niemann-Pick disease type C1. (See related story above.)
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

Pitt Researchers Work to Restore Function in Paralysis Patients
A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and its medical center have published breakthrough brain-computer-interface research that provides hope to nearly 6 million paralyzed individuals and another 1.7 million amputees nationwide.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

2012

Patients with Rare Muscle Disorder Benefit from Repurposed Heart Drug
With RDCRN and CTSA Program support, researchers at seven institutions in four countries were able to recruit enough patients with a rare genetic muscle disorder for a clinical trial to test a potential repurposed drug therapy called mexiletine, normally prescribed for heart disorders.
NCATS Support: Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network and Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

CTSA Training Enables Research on the Effects of Antibiotics on Body Fat
New York University School of Medicine’s Ilseung Cho, M.D., M.S., attests that his school’s CTSA Program support has made crucial and ongoing contributions to his professional growth and achievements.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

A New Method to Help Scientists Better Identify Drug Candidates
Reporter genes are a powerful tool widely used in drug discovery screening that can produce misleading results. NCATS researchers have designed a novel method that increases the odds of identifying candidate compounds with true activity against biological or disease targets.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

NCATS Science Showcased at 26th NIH Research Festival
Researchers and staff from NCATS highlighted some of the Center’s recent science advances and new initiatives at the 26th Annual NIH Research Festival October 9–12 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
NCATS Support: Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation

NCATS Collaborative Project Wins Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer
A collaborative research team, including nine experts from NCATS, was honored by the mid-Atlantic regional Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer for work on an investigational treatment for Niemann-Pick disease type C1, a rare neurological disease.
NCATS Support: Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases

Activating Key Cancer Enzyme Blocks Tumor Growth in Mice
A team that includes nine NCATS researchers has identified compounds that delay tumor formation in mice. The compounds target a specific form of pyruvate kinase, called PKM2, which governs how cancer cells use glucose.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center

Collaboration May Help Uncover Treatments for Rare Neurologic Disease
Scientists from NCATS and the University of Wisconsin–Madison have helped identify three promising molecular compounds from a collection of approved drugs to pursue as potential treatments for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a neurological disorder.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center

An Epigenetic Strategy to Kill Cancer Tumors
Researchers at Penn State University, supported in part by CTSA Program pilot funds, created a promising new strategy for “reactivating” genes that causes cancer tumors to shrink and die.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

New Guide to Help Researchers Develop Therapeutic Screening Tests
NCATS and Eli Lilly have jointly released an Assay Guidance Manual designed to provide step-by-step guidance through the complex process of turning a basic research finding into an assay (test) that will start the process of discovering pharmacological tools and drugs.
NCATS Support: NCATS Chemical Genomics Center, Assay Development and Screening Technology

New Drug for Rare Type of Cystic Fibrosis
Building on decades of NIH support for cystic fibrosis research, 10 CTSA Program institutions provided resources and partnered with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Vertex Pharmaceuticals to develop the first targeted therapy for a rare type of this deadly disease.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Converting Brain Signals into Action
A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh received critical help from CTSA Program regulatory experts to develop a micro-electrocorticography grid that may help paralyzed individuals move again.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Lighting a Path for Improved Cancer Treatment
CTSA Program pilot funds often help jump-start innovative ideas — Michelle Bradbury, clinician-scientist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Nanotechnology Center, is taking a new nanoparticle into the clinic.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Designing Solutions to Improve Health for All
The OneBreath ventilator was designed by a team in Stanford University’s Biodesign program for use in emergency pandemic situations and for patient care in resource-poor countries.
NCATS Support: Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

Last updated: 04-26-2017
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