For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Contact:
NIH Office of Communications
301-496-5787

NIH to offer new clinical research opportunity

Initiative to partner with Lasker Foundation

The National Institutes of Health has launched a new program in conjunction with the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation that will provide medical doctors with funding for patient-focused, clinical research projects. The goal is to bridge the widening gap between cutting-edge research and improved patient care.

The initiative, called the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program, enables exceptional clinical researchers in the early stages of their careers to first spend 5 to 7 years at the NIH Clinical Center, the world's largest hospital dedicated to patient-oriented research, in Bethesda, Md.

Upon successful completion of this first stage, the scholars would be offered the opportunity to remain at the NIH as senior clinical research scientists or to apply for up to four years of independent financial support at a university or other external research institution.

"Stable and extended funding is crucial for clinical research. The time needed to develop therapies and to take them from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside is significant," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

"The number of U.S. physician-researchers has declined dramatically since the 1980s," Collins added. "The Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program will grow the diminishing pool of talented clinical researchers at the NIH and at academic institutions by giving them the necessary financial support to establish their careers."

The Lasker Scholar program represents a historic partnership between the NIH intramural research program, with its extensive portfolio of research projects conducted in federal labs and facilities, and the extramural program, whose funding supports most of the U.S. university-based biomedical research effort. "We are offering the best of both worlds," said Michael Gottesman, M.D., NIH deputy director for intramural research.

Through an arrangement with the Lasker Foundation, scholars will have the opportunity to interact with Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award winners, who will help serve as mentors, as well as participate in many Lasker meetings and award ceremonies. The program honors the contributions of Mary and Albert Lasker to the NIH and to the overall biomedical community.

"The Lasker Foundation is proud to partner with the NIH in this important translational research initiative which will foster the next generation of physician-scientists, and harness basic biological research for the benefit of patients, society, and the world," said Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation President, Dr. Maria Freire.

The program hopes to accept at least five clinical researchers per year for the next decade, if not longer.

"This effort is in response to numerous calls from high-level review groups as well as our own strong belief that we need to do more to encourage and foster clinical research careers in the current economic climate," said Sally J. Rockey, Ph.D., NIH deputy director for extramural research.

"This is a substantial financial commitment that we believe will pay off in terms of developing treatments and cures," said Collins.

More information about the Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program is available at http://www.nih.gov/science/laskerscholar/index.html

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

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