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LCA and Patient Advocate Groups Send Letter to NIH Director Francis Collins Encouraging Utilization of the NIH Clinical Center Hospital

May 17, 2010 [Washington, DC] -- Lung Cancer Alliance and more than 87 patient advocate groups sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Francis Collins, requesting improved access to and funding of the NIH Clinical Center:part of the NIH Intramural Research Program and the largest dedicated research hospital in the country.  The letter requests that NIH support new approaches that maximize the resources of our nation's medical research enterprise and support collaboration among all the stakeholders involved.  Patient advocate groups, private research funders and public health policy organizations all call on the NIH to allow greater use of and partnership with the Clinical Center by the external research community.

The letter calls attention to the underutilization of the Clinical Center facility and the fact that its potential as a national resource for the public health is not being fully realized.  The facility holds some of the nation's best imaging and diagnostic equipment, genetic phenotyping expertise, and access to a wide range of clinical research specialists. The Center has the potential to be a leading research institution for the study of rare and orphan diseases and on pre-clinical and methods research essential to translating promising discoveries into new treatments and cures.

The signers of the letter call on the NIH to accomplish two goals:

  • Create streamlined mechanisms by which external researchers can more fully use the Clinical Center for projects in collaboration with the IRP. This might include giving the Clinical Center and/or Institutes the flexibility and authority to negotiate broader collaborative agreements or public-private partnerships, taking into consideration ethics rules and intellectual property rights.
  • Explore the possibility of the Clinical Center controlling a pool of funds to make use of the facility feasible for investigators who otherwise could not afford it, for example through a program similar to the existing Bench-to-Bedside Awards.

In addition, the letter calls on NIH to fulfill the stated mission of the Clinical Center, to "lead the global effort in training today's investigators and discovering tomorrow's cures."

Lung Cancer Alliance will continue to monitor this issue moving forward and will provide regular updates as to its progress.

To read the complete letter to NIH Director, Francis Collins, click here.