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Clinical and Translational Science

Doctor examining a young girl's eyes

Scientists practicing clinical and translational research strive to transform laboratory discoveries into new therapies for patients. It can take more than a decade, however, before a basic scientific finding can advance through preclinical and clinical studies to result in a new treatment, medical device or prevention method.

Accelerating this process is a top priority for NCATS as part of its mission 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.

Addressing Research Challenges

Researchers nationwide face common barriers in clinical and translational research, including:

  • Increased research costs and complexity.
  • A shortage of information systems.
  • Increased regulatory burdens.
  • Low patient recruitment and retention in clinical research studies.
  • Difficulties in recruiting, mentoring and retaining a critical mass of qualified clinical and translational investigators.

Barriers such as these can cause delays in achieving ideal end results. NCATS is committed to improving the process of bringing new treatments, preventions and diagnostics to patients faster and more economically.

Transforming Translational Research

The NCATS Division of Clinical Innovation is charged with transforming the translational research process. The Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, which is part of this division, funds a national consortium of medical research institutions dedicated to improving clinical and translational research. This program serves as an essential component in addressing these research challenges.

Clinical trials and research studies with patients also play an important role. Researchers need access to tools, expertise and resources that can expedite this often lengthy process while ensuring patient safety. NIH offers many tools that can provide assistance to researchers who need help designing clinical trials, recruiting appropriate patients for their studies and engaging the community in the research process.

Translating New Treatments and Prevention Strategies More Efficiently

Using new technologies and information systems, training laboratory and clinical investigators improve communications between lab discovery, patient-centered research, and therapeutics delivered to the community.

CTSA-funded institutions aim to accelerate scientific discovery along the entire biomedical research continuum, from basic science to patient studies to clinical practice, using an integrated approach. Information sharing at each stage of the process ensures that researchers are meeting community health needs, and that progress in the clinic, in turn, informs the work in the laboratory.