Jim Dickens joined the NCATS Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR) as a program manager in May 2019, where he helps to manage the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), the NCATS Toolkit for Patient-Focused Therapy Development and the Rare Diseases Registry Program. In this role, Dickens is helping to coordinate the development of GARD 2.0, a comprehensive overhaul of the GARD website that includes updating more than 3,500 disease pages, completely redesigning the underlying database, enhancing the public-facing website, migrating to a new contact center platform, taking advantage of technology to automate the process of keeping disease content up to date and linking GARD to other NCATS tools to enhance its utility to researchers and clinicians.
Dickens has more than 30 years of experience in finance and research administration. Prior to his role in the ORDR, he spent 2 ½ years working on consulting projects for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and NCATS. Previously, he had been the chief administrative officer for the Inova Translational Medicine Institute for five years, where he managed a $30 million annual budget devoted to biomedical research and clinical testing. This came after 20 years at NIH, mostly at the NCI, where he served as the director of the Office of Budget and Finance. In this role, he advised and helped oversee a $5 billion annual budget, spread across 7,000 employees, contractors and trainees. Dickens also served as the acting deputy director of administration for a year and as the acting deputy executive officer on two occasions.
Throughout his career, Dickens has made it a priority to serve scientists and clinicians by eliminating administrative obstacles and allowing them to carry out their research missions.