authorizing legislation for CAN requires that it be overseen by a board of 24 diverse members from several fields, including research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), venture capital, and patient advocacy. Though appropriated funding for its initial year was just $10 million, CAN has the potential to catalyze widespread changes in NCATS, NIH, and the drug development ecosystem in general.

On June 4—5, 2012, the Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation (the Forum) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) held a workshop in Washington, DC, to explore options and opportunities in the implementation of CAN by NCATS. Entitled “Maximizing the Goals of the Cures Acceleration Network to Accelerate the Development of New Drugs and Diagnostics,” the workshop was held in part to respond to congressional interest in CAN expressed in the 2012 appropriations act conference report. The workshop brought together members of federal government agencies, the private sector, academia, and advocacy groups for a day and a half of informative presentations and vigorous discussion. Box 1-1 lists the objectives of the workshop.

This summary of the workshop is meant to inform NCATS, the policy community, patient groups, the public, and other stakeholders as all of these parties work together to enhance the development and testing of therapies and diagnostics. This summary also is being provided to NCATS and to the newly established Cures Acceleration Network Review Board (the CAN Board) to help it identify ways to maximize the impact of CAN and accelerate and expand the availability of cures for patients.

The first chapter of this summary provides an overview of CAN and compiles an overview of the themes of the workshop. Chapter 2 examines different approaches to accelerating translational science, in part through case studies of successful drug development projects. Chapters 3 and 4 examine two unusual features of CAN: the authority to require that some of its grants be matched by funds from other sources, and the authority to use a more flexible form of contracting known as “other transaction authority” (OTA), which has contributed to the success of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Chapter 5 presents perspectives on the role of CAN within the broader drug development ecosystem. Chapter 6 concludes this summary of the workshop with several views expressed by participants of steps CAN could take to have a major impact on the development of cures to improve human health.


In the first session of the workshop, five speakers discussed the history, organization, and goals of CAN—Tom Insel, Acting Director, NCATS; Sudip Parikh, Vice President of Health Policy, and Managing

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