Mike's Blog

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  • By: Michael Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation We are now solidly into the ‘dog days of summer’ which does happen to have the singular advantage for those of us in DC that Congress also takes their summer break during this time when the heat and humidity are worst. For those wondering why we use the term ‘dog days,’ this originates with the star, Sirius
  • By: Michael Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation Over the last 2.5 years many COVID related concepts have had their day in the sun only to wither and fall by the wayside (‘flatten the curve,’ ‘herd immunity,’ e.g.), all the while the COVID train just keeps on rolling. While many anticipated the omicron wave last winter to be the virus’ last hurrah, since that
  • “Infectious disease is one of the few genuine adventures left in the world,” so said Hans Zinnser, one of the infectious disease giants from the early 20th century. Not only did he name a disease (Brill-Zinsser disease), but also isolate the organism (Rickettsia prowazekii) as well as make the vaccine and a textbook. He was also a medical war hero (WWI) and mentored John Enders (who went on to
  • By: Sanae ElShourbagy Ferreira, Ph.D., NCATS Health Specialist, Division of Clinical Innovation; Erica Rosemond, Ph.D., NCATS Acting Deputy Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation; Michael Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation After over two years of remote work with virtually everything virtual, NIH has embarked on ‘return to work’ (at least 1 day per
  • I, like many others will be looking forward to the upcoming ACTS meeting in Chicago this month for the first 3D meeting in two years. Hopefully BA.2 will remain muted, at least in the Chicago area which is currently rated ‘low’ by the CDC’s community level measure. Closer to home in the DC region, there has been some other activity over the past several weeks that has engendered some other
  • Guest Blog by Erica Rosemond, Ph.D., NCATS Acting Deputy Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation The NCATS team is excited to connect with the CTSA community in 3D at the 2022 CTSA Program Group Meetings in April, in conjunction with the annual Translational Science Meeting! At least this is what we hope! It seems that every second week we are re-assessing the situation with COVID as new
  • By: Michael G. Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation As we enter 2022, these words of Yogi Berra - baseball legend and philosopher - ring true and should engender some much-needed humility. Berra also offered sound advice to scientists: “you can observe a lot by just watching,” as well as an appropriate assessment on our overall public health response: “we
  • By: Michael G. Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation COVID continues to prove itself remarkably tenacious and provided a Thanksgiving surprise with a new variant of concern, omicron. For those keeping track, we’re now about two-thirds of the way through the Greek alphabet. If we run out of Greek letters, WHO has considered using constellations which means the
  • By: Michael G. Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation The last 21 months have witnessed the most significant upheaval in our lives, both professional as well as personal due to COVID (and we’re still not out of the woods yet). During this time, NCATS has managed to issue the next generation suite of FOAs for the CTSA program as well as hold two technical
  • By: Audie Atienza, Ph.D., NCATS Program Officer; Sanae ElShourbagy Ferreira, Ph.D., NCATS Health Specialist; and Michael G. Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D., NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation While SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated remarkable tenacity in terms of successfully navigating pharmaceutical as well as non-pharmaceutical interventions with waves of new variants throughout this pandemic

  • First a bit on COVID, then a small request. COVID will surely provide a wealth of material for future Monday morning armchair quarterbacking. One aspect (among many) of the overall public health response that has received harsh and severe criticism has been the approach, style, and substance of communications with the general public. From the WHO’s early tagline of ‘we have no evidence’ to the

  • A publication in Science Translational Medicine from last month, ‘Undiagnosed SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States’ is noteworthy for several highlights. Beyond the science of the article itself, the fact that this work represents the efforts of two CTSAs (University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Clinical and Translational Science

  • By: Dr. Sanae ElShourbagy Ferreira, NCATS Health Specialist and Dr. Michael G. Kurilla, NCATS Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation Although COVID-19 infections are decreasing and vaccinations among the adult population hover around 50%, COVID-19 is not quite yet in our rear-view mirror due to a combination of uncertainty regarding durability of immunity conferred by either vaccination
  • The ‘Un-Meeting’ format which begins with a topic and little in the way of an agenda offers a unique opportunity to explore areas where multiple types of stakeholders with multiple perspectives can interact to focus attention on an issue for which there is no clear ownership or leadership. In this manner, areas that struggle to define themselves begin to come into focus. Recently, the CTSA
  • Guest Blog by Dr. Joni L. Rutter, NCATS Acting Director Greetings! It is my pleasure to be a guest on Mike’s Blog this month. While I have not yet met some of you, I hope this can serve as an introduction in my new capacity as Acting Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. It has just been a few weeks since Dr. Austin’s departure, and you may be wondering how this
  • Guest Blog by Dr. Audie Atienza, NCATS Program Officer and Dr. Sanae ElShourbagy Ferreira, NCATS Health Specialist On March 26, 2021, The CTSA Program held an “Un-meeting”, organized by CLIC and CTSC of Cleveland, on the topic of “Tackling the Digital Divide to Improve Telehealth”. This un-meeting brought together 104 participants, representing 32 CTSA hubs, to inform the consortium and those
  • Public health now has a 3rd arrow in its quiver in the form of another COVID vaccine. The J&J vaccine is the first to offer a single dose with refrigeration requirements suitable for a wider array of health care settings. All that said, vaccine hesitancy remains an obstacle to an effective public health response. In this regard, CTSAs are playing a critical role in addressing public concerns about

  • The CTSA Program strives to deliver scientific and system changes that solve the many outstanding problems limiting the efficiency, effectiveness, and reach of clinical translational research, and thus get more treatments to more patients more quickly across the country. As the largest clinical translational science network and as an exemplar to team science, NCATS envisions the CTSA Program

  • We have arrived in 2021, hopeful for scientific advances to curb this pandemic once and for all. Our preparedness and readiness have been crucial in the development and implementation of several clinical trials leading the way in identifying safe and effective therapies and diagnostics for COVID-19. During this process we have witnessed incredible levels of innovation and adaptation, from the N3C

  • We have now completed a full cycle of virtual CTSA Program meetings where we had the opportunity to share each other’s presence – from a healthy and safe distance. Remarkably, during such a challenging year, we have managed to remain engaged and maintain quality and participation in our meetings under these “new normal” virtual gatherings. Summarizing a meeting with so many highlights is no easy