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NIH Opens Research Hospital to Outside Scientists

Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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New program tackles disease on many fronts.

Ten projects that will enable non-government researchers to conduct clinical research at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. were announced.

Through these three-year, renewable awards of up to $500,000 per year, scientists from institutions across the United States will collaborate with government scientists in a highly specialized hospital setting. The NIH Clinical Center is the largest hospital in the nation devoted entirely to clinical research.

"This initiative will provide top scientists outside NIH the opportunity to utilize the sizable resources of our clinical center," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The collaborative process they undertake with researchers here on campus will set a framework for important biomedical discoveries and needed treatments."

NIH funds scientists outside of its organization, called extramural researchers, and government scientists who work for NIH directly, called intramural researchers. Although intramural scientists often collaborate with scientists outside the NIH campus, the new grants now will provide extramural researchers from academia and industry with direct access to the broad resources of the NIH Clinical Center.

Outside scientists will be able to test promising laboratory discoveries using emerging technologies and tools and collaborate on clinical protocols, often for extraordinarily rare diseases, in partnership with NIH investigators to help advance disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

"We are very excited about opening the doors of the Clinical Center to our extramural colleagues who will bring additional cutting-edge research projects and new partnerships that will enrich ongoing efforts translating scientific discovery into tomorrow's cures at the Clinical Center and in partnering institutions around the country," said John I. Gallin, M.D., director of the NIH Clinical Center.

The awards will support projects on a variety of diseases and health conditions that affect children and adults in the United States and worldwide. The new projects will include:
• a clinical trial for a new drug treatment for Nieman Pick C, a rare, fatal disease is caused by the loss of ability to break down cholesterol and other fats
• a clinical trial of a new drug treatment to prevent relapse in a form of childhood leukemia
• a clinical trial of the genetic makeup of certain types of prostate cancer, to gain insights that could yield new information for prevention and treatment efforts,
• development of a new catheter that can be threaded into the heart, to relay high quality images needed for making surgical and treatment decisions
• a long term follow-up study of patients treated for Cryptococcus gattii, an airborne fungus that can cause severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory infections
• a clinical trial of a new vaccine to prevent malaria.

"These are the first awards in this unique program. We are offering this exciting opportunity again this year," said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., NIH deputy director for extramural research. "Sharing technology, which drives so much of what we do today, along with opportunities to take basic science and bring it into clinical applications, will allow us to generate findings that tell us what works and what doesn't work in health care and medicine. Most importantly, we need to do all we can to stimulate collaborations among the country's best scientific minds - in and outside the NIH campus."

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