Philip John (P.J.) Brooks joined the NCATS Division of Clinical Innovation (DCI) as a program director in January 2015. He is the lead program director for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program Collaborative Innovation Awards, designed to fund projects that will result in novel and creative approaches to overcoming roadblocks in translational science (PAR-15-173). He also represents NCATS on the Trans-NIH Microbiome Working Group and Gene Therapy Working Group, and participates in the NIH Common Fund programs on Extracellular RNA Communication. He also works with the Office of Rare Diseases Research as a liason to several consortia within the Rare Disease Clinical Research Network (RDCRN).
Brooks earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and received his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rockefeller University, Brooks became an investigator in the intramural program of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). He developed an internationally recognized research program focused on two distinct areas: the molecular basis of alcohol-related cancer, and rare neurologic diseases resulting from defective DNA repair. In addition to his position with DCI, Brooks is a guest researcher in the NIAAA Laboratory of Neurogenetics.
Brooks’ research on rare genetic diseases gave him the opportunity to meet with patients and their families, which had a powerful impact on his view of the importance of translational science. He believes that nucleic acids have clear therapeutic potential for single-gene disorders, as indicated by recent successes using gene therapy. However, the ability to deliver these complex molecules to the affected cell types remains the limiting factor in many diseases. Brooks wrote a funding opportunity announcement to support innovative approaches to addressing this problem.
Brooks also is interested in the development of therapeutics that could be used in multiple diseases as well as the design of novel clinical trials to test them. In addition to interventions, Brooks is interested in improving human health through education and disease prevention. More broadly, he is interested in novel solutions to the major roadblocks in translational science, bringing more treatments to more patients more quickly.