American Society of Hematology

Controversy Continues on NCATS Development; Congressman Asks NIH to Halt Search for Center Director

Published on: June 30, 2011

Congressman Dennis Rehberg, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (R-MT) has written to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing concerns about the creation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and suggested that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) "cease all action" related to establishing the new center. Representative Rehberg explained that his concerns stem from the relatively fast pace of the creation of NCATS and the "scant level of information provided to the Appropriations Committee thus far."

The primary concern of many Members of Congress is the fate of existing funding programs, mainly the Institutional Development Awards (IDeAs) and the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). Both are currently housed within the National Center for Research Resources, a center that will be mostly integrated into NCATS, according to the plan submitted by Secretary Sebelius. In the plan, IDeA will be moved to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and CTSA to NCATS. While the FY2012 budget has yet to be passed by Congress, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, has made it clear that his goal is for NCATS to be operational by October 1, 2011, the beginning of the next fiscal year. NIH spokesperson John Burklow said the agency is preparing a response to Representative Rehberg's letter and that the NIH will form a search committee to identify a NCATS director.

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