The National Institutes of Health made waves recently by announcing the creation of a new drug development center, at the expense of an existing research center. The drug center, called the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, aims to cross what supporters call the "valley of death" that can occur between basic NIH discoveries and the sometimes risky and expensive undertaking of translating those findings into actual treatments.
Republican opposition in Congress has already bubbled up, with Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., saying the center is "a huge departure that needs debate."
"I think it also flies in the face of what the president said the other night, which is we don't want to stymie innovation in this country, we want the private sector to flourish, we want jobs to be created," said Burr.
Congress has considered legislative efforts to get the NIH involved in drug development, namely in the Cures Acceleration Network, a program authorized under the health care law. But it is unclear if the program will get any startup funds from a divided House and Senate.
Do you think moving toward drug development is a good step for the NIH? Is this an appropriate role for the government, or should NIH's efforts be directed elsewhere?