A six-member task force, convened by FasterCures and chaired by Nobel Laureate Dr. David Baltimore, recently issued a set of recommendations regarding how to strengthen the mission and impact of the Intramural Research Program (IRP). Given the likelihood of constrained budgets in the near future, it is especially critical that NIH make the best and most efficient use of the IRP, one of its most valuable resources. FasterCures shared the task force’s recommendations with the Obama transition team.
The IRP consumes nearly ten percent of the NIH’s budget. It has a highly regarded history of discovery but today lacks a clearly defined mission within the overall NIH effort. The task force recommends a framework within which to refresh the IRP, giving it a distinct mission and identity in the service of improving public health. This mission is three-fold:
- to focus on translational research, especially work that utilizes the unique capabilities of the NIH Clinical Center;
- to be prepared to respond expeditiously to new scientific opportunities and challenges; and
- to focus on high-risk, long-term basic research goals that would be difficult to pursue in the extramural research environment.
- NIH should articulate an overarching mission for the IRP and strategies for meeting goals over the next five years, focused specifically on advancing translational and clinical research in the interest of public health.
- The Clinical Center must be fully utilized and the IRP’s clinical research program should be expanded.
- The IRP should be encouraged to systematically and proactively mobilize resources to rapidly and effectively respond to emerging scientific challenges and opportunities.
- The IRP should be the premier national program for translational and clinical research training.
- The IRP should play a central role in developing and sustaining large-scale, long-term projects.