It's not just because the amount pales in signficance to what drug and biotech companies spend doing exactly what the NIH grant is, in part, supposed to do: pooling data, enrolling people in studies more quickly. (Where is the demand to have academics post their clinical trial data on a website for the world to see?)
Nor is it because the money seems to be going to fund exactly what the academic medical centers are already doing, except they will hold more conferences where people can squabble over control over data. For instance, according to the Sacramento Bee
"UC Davis plans to use the funds to expand clinical trials for people with cancer, infectious diseases, vascular diseases and neurological conditions including Alzheimer's disease and spinal cord damage, said Dr. Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor and medical school dean.
Beyond clinical trials, it will also look for ways to ensure that the newest advances in treatment are spread throughout the community, so that underserved populations also can benefit"
Sounds great, but a business plan or opportunistic driven research agenda it ain't.
Perhaps it is because the phrase "translational medicine" has become the cool buzz word of those seeking additional NIH funding and twist it to mean anything and everything.
That fact is, we have a translational medicine problem in academia and it consists of NIH researchers and academics knowing next to nothing about drug development or the quality of data it takes or the medicine chemistry required to actually get a drug ready for human trials. Academia and NIH are awash in novel targets -- as are drug companie -- but in academia everyone thinks their compound is going to be grand slam when in fact they strike out more often than not.
And for VC and biotech firms, the reluctance to fund academic research is not just the prima donna behavior on the part of potential partners, it is the fact that most compounds or potential products are not far enough along the development continuum to know if they will work or not...The real translational work in an era of targeted medicine will take place in a new drug development paradigm where academia and companies work more closely -- in cooperation with the FDA -- to revamp the drug approval path consistent with what is known about medicine from the mounds of prior clinical experience and biomarker validation.
The fact is, the real barriers to translational medicine are the product of failing to apply cutting edge science to today's drug development regulations. So for David Kessler -- the former FDA commish who is now dean of the UC medical school to say that there are"not enough people who are pursuing research that connects the dots between what is done in our basic science labs and what can directly benefit patients." is galling. It was he who made it harder to bring medicines by opposing the introduction of science based changes to FDA processes permitting accelerated approval. There are plenty of people...but not enough dots. That's a political problem perpetuated by people like Kessler, Grassley, Waxman, etc.