NIH launches $140M drug tox project, hunts for translational R&D chief

As the White House helps boost the efforts of NIH chief Francis Collins to create an ambitious new center for translational biomedical research, the agency has struck a deal with the FDA and the bleeding-edge crowd at DARPA to fund a new R&D program for the center which will create a computer chip that can better probe potential drug toxicity. The agencies will provide $140 million over 5 years to back the project for the center, which has stirred some opposition in Congress.

The new project will grow three-dimensional groups of cells combined by type, say kidney or lung cells, which will be able to illustrate the toxic effects of an experimental treatment, according to Science magazine. Collins tells the magazine that the program is "really ambitious." And DARPA, the military's R&D group, is already out scouting for proposals.

Collins' proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences will be responsible for the project, provided it survives an effort in Congress to scuttle funding. Some lawmakers have urged Collins to hold off on his efforts to recruit a chief for the center, a major initiative he put together to accelerate early-stage research. But as Science notes, the agency nevertheless pushed ahead with an ad for the job.

Questions about NCATS have also raised uncertainties about the National Center for Research Resources, an NIH division that is supposed to be wrapped up in the new operation.

- here's the article from Science

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