SEP 16, 2015 10:00 AM PDT

Catalyzing Translational Innovation

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  • Director, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
      Christopher Austin is Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. NCATS' mission is to catalyze the generation of innovative methods and technologies that will enhance the development, testing and implementation of diagnostics and therapeutics across a wide range of human diseases and conditions. Before becoming NCATS Director in September 2012, he was Director of the NCATS Division of Preclinical Innovation, which focuses on translating basic science discoveries into new treatments, particularly for rare and neglected diseases, and developing new technologies and paradigms to improve the efficiency of therapeutic and diagnostic development. In this role, he founded and directed numerous initiatives including the NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC), the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program, and the Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) program. Before joining NIH in 2002, Dr. Austin directed research programs at Merck, with a particular focus on schizophrenia. Austin earned an A.B. in biology from Princeton University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

    The process by which observations in the laboratory or the clinic are transformed into demonstrably useful interventions that tangibly improve human health is frequently termed "translation." This multi-stage and multifaceted process is poorly understood scientifically, and the current research ecosystem is operationally not well suited to the distinct needs of translation. As a result, biomedical science is in an era of unprecedented accomplishment without a concomitant improvement in meaningful health outcomes, and this is creating pressures that extend from the scientific to the societal and political. To meet the opportunities and needs in translational science, NCATS was created as NIH's newest component in December 2011, via a concatenation of extant NIH programs previously resident in other components of NIH. NCATS is scientifically and organizationally different from other NIH Institutes and Centers. It focuses on what is common to diseases and the translational process, and acts a catalyst to bring together the collaborative teams necessary to develop new technologies and paradigms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process, from target validation through intervention development to demonstration of public health impact. This talk will provide an overview of NCATS mission, programs, and deliverables, with a view toward future developments in drug discovery and translational medicine.

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