Friday, August 10, 2012

Outside In: NIH Opens Clinical Center to Extramural Researchers

Researchers from academia, nonprofits, and other institutions not within the National Institutes of Health can now access the world-class facilities at the NIH Clinical Center.

Scientists interested in pursuing access to specific Clinical Center resources – including an impressive metabolic unit, pharmaceutical development capabilities, and advanced research-related radiology imaging services – can now explore opportunities and pathways for collaboration with the Center.

Until now, the Clinical Center —NIH’s crown jewel – has been exclusively available to the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP).  But with a new grant mechanism, a website that provides information on opportunities and pathways for collaboration with the Center, and a toolkit for researchers interested in pursuing access to specific hospital resources, the doors (and medical possibilities) are opening up.

In 2008, FasterCures convened a task force chaired by Nobel Laureate Dr. David Baltimore, which called for the IRP to adopt a new mission that was outcomes-focused, capable of responding quickly to new opportunities, and fully utilized its world-class research hospital and other infrastructure (which at the time rarely reached 60% occupancy). Among the task force’s key recommendations  was that the NIH create streamlined mechanisms by which extramural researchers and industry could more fully use the Clinical Center for projects in collaboration with the IRP.

A few years later, in 2010, FasterCures and 86 other patient organizations sent a letter urging the NIH’s Scientific Management Review Board to open up the Clinical Center facilities to external researchers.

With some of the most advanced medical technologies in the world, the Clinical Center has a distinguished history of discovery. We are delighted to see NIH continue with this important initiative and we encourage researchers to take them up on their offer and make use of the Center’s incredible resources. After all – no one can do this alone.

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