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May 28, 2020 22 min
“Are we going to require the same level of evidence for a vaccine … before it is approved? Could we potentially begin to use it at the same time we're still studying it? Normally we would never do that, but it's this kind of translational innovation that this COVID crisis is making not only possible, but needed.” How do simple scientific observations – from the laboratory, clinic, or the community – become therapies and cures? It’s called translation, and since 2012, one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health has been dedicated to doing just that. As director of NCATS, Christopher Austin oversees a vast ecosystem of research, analysis, and innovation to accelerate cures and therapies to those who need them most. Austin sees the current pandemic as a turning point for greater data sharing and team science. “We are seeing that on a scale I have never seen across NIH, across government agencies, and with the pharmaceutical and biotech industry,” he tells Mike. “We have a singular moment when everyone realizes the need for faster cures and the limitations of the current system to deliver them.”
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