It’s been an interesting conference here at the NIH campus on collaboration between academia and industry. There was lots of talk of the “valley of death” or the wide expanse left between basic research and good ideas, and translation into the clinic. NIH is trying to help by creating these Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSA), which are actually consortiums organized around the country to move ideas into the clinic. There are currently 26 CTSAs with plans for 60. They work to move drugs, devices, and diagnostics from the lab into the clinic.
What I found relevant for breast cancer advocates, is the important role they can play in ensuring that the work stays focused on the health needs. Some of the directors from the CTSAs spoke of the need for the “pull” from the consumers to drive these collaborations and the translation, rather than the “push” form the scientists or businesses. As these CTSAs continue to form and evolve, there may be a great opportunity for advocates to get involved and to have influence.
For more information and to find out if there are participating institutions in your area check out the website at www.ctsaweb.org.