Today, Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, was one of five witnesses to address the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education in Washington, D.C. on the role of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). An initiative spearheaded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, NCATS would be the first research institute at NIH exclusively dedicated to driving translational research to speed basic science discoveries into practical treatments.
Sherer offered key learnings from the Foundation’s model to speed treatment breakthroughs for Parkinson’s disease by investing strategically in translational research. His testimony defined the role of translational research in the drug development process, demonstrating how lessons learned in Parkinson’s could apply to the greater medical research enterprise and how NCATS could help create a more efficient drug development process for the benefit of generations of Americans.
“This series of [translational] questions must be asked and answered before we take the critical leap of faith to test a potential therapy in a human. The problem is, it’s far easier said than done. In the medical research system as it stands today, few natural handoffs exist to shepherd promising findings from researcher to researcher, institution to institution, or discipline to discipline — let alone from academia to industry. This phase has famously been dubbed the ‘valley of death’ because of the chronic funding and expertise gap that is crying out to be addressed by an institute like NCATS. For now, unfortunately, this is where potential treatment breakthroughs go to die.”
You can read Todd's complete testimony.