NIH on improving biomedical research results for human health

This post courtesy of Anne Taylor-Vaisey:

From today's New England Journal of Medicine:

Zerhouni EA. Translational and clinical science -- Time for a new vision. N Engl J Med 2005; 353(15):1621-1623.

Excerpt: It is the responsibility of those of us involved in today's biomedical research enterprise to translate the remarkable scientific innovations we are witnessing into health gains for the nation. In order to address this imperative, we at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked ourselves:

What novel approaches can be developed that have the potential to be truly transforming for human health?

To help crystallize these ideas and develop tangible strategies to advance our efforts, three years ago the NIH initiated a series of consultations with the research community to define major scientific trends collectively, with th! e goal of identifying thematic areas that no single NIH institute or group of institutes could tackle alone, but that the whole of the NIH needed to address.

This effort led to the development of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research,1 with three fundamental themes.

First, we identified the need to stimulate the development of novel approaches to unravel the complexity of biologic systems and their regulation, which we encapsulated in the "New Pathways to Discovery" theme.

Second, since progress is often made at the interface of preexisting disciplines, we explored ways to reduce the cultural and administrative barriers that often impede such research. To invoke an era in which scientists can cooperate in new and different ways, we drafted novel programs under the theme of "Research Teams of the Future." One of these innovative programs is the Pioneer Award, in which the NIH provides unpreced! ented intellectual freedom to highly creative thinkers investigating problems of biomedical and behavioral importance.

Third, we heard resounding concern from basic, translational, and clinical researchers alike that their interactions were becoming more remote and difficult, that clinical research was increasingly less attractive to new investigators, and that clinician-scientists were moving away from patient-oriented research. It was clear that instigating renovations in translational and clinical science was paramount among the NIH's immediate responsibilities. This led us to formulate the third Roadmap theme, "Re-engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise."

Zerhouni E. The NIH Roadmap. Science 2003;302:63-72. [Abstract/Full Text]

Free full text of the NEJM article


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