applauded. The NIDRR model, which uses a center to advance technology transfer matters, has yet to be scientifically evaluated.

NIH has the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), but it apparently does not involve rehabilitation science and engineering. Each of the institutes, centers, and divisions within NIH conducts its own dissemination and technology transfer activities. NIH as a whole uses OTT as a focal point for coordinated technology transfer in the planning stages of the research process. This office uses Cooperative Research and Development Agreements to forge joint government-industry research projects and Material Transfer Agreements to facilitate the exchange of research materials. OTT also handles the intellectual property portfolio, which includes patenting, for NIH scientists and research.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), through its Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), has been particularly successful at technology transfer by providing patients access to state-of-the-art care. Established in 1983, the program focuses on clinical trials as its primary vehicle for dissemination. Central to the success of this program is the linkage of patients and providers, each with their own incentives. By increasing the number of patients and physicians who can participate in clinical trials, CCOP hopes to bring the latest techniques and technologies to a larger number of people at the community level while increasing the knowledge base of cancer treatment research as a whole.

Because, as noted earlier, most rehabilitation interventions do not require FDA approval, the federal control exerted in a program such as CCOP alone cannot work in transfer of rehabilitation technology. Controlling access to powerful anticancer drugs gives the government a lever to encourage patients to enroll in clinical trials; only in trials involving a medical device (e.g., prosthetic and orthotic) would this encouragement be apt. To be done properly, strong federal support is required, but occasionally, innovative individuals can generate important new contributions to the science. Therefore, the committee does not recommend that a restrictive system such as CCOP be adopted to enhance rehabilitation technology transfer. The CCOP system could, however, be adapted to the rehabilitation science and engineering environment to encourage multicenter trials. As such, a system coordinated by the ADRR would need to be developed with the expressed mission to:

  • improve quality of care;
  • serve as continuing education for physicians and other health professionals;
  • support a diversified research agenda spanning many scientific disciplines and foster interdisciplinary efforts;

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