At the core of NIDDK’s mission, we seek to improve people’s health and quality of life through medical research. From basic science to clinical trials, the work we conduct and fund is key to that vision. But it is not the only way NIDDK advances science to help people.
We also seek to translate, in a variety of ways, both basic and clinical discoveries into resources that can directly improve public health. As you can read about in this issue, through our Technology Advancement Office, we assist our intramural researchers in bringing potentially life-saving medical products to the people who need them by patenting inventions and partnering with industry in ways that enable the public to reap the benefits. This office also helps our extramural endeavors to partner with industry, often to enable clinical trials.
We also support opportunities for small business through our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and opportunities for collaboration between academic investigators and small businesses through the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, which have set-aside funding to help small businesses transform health research innovations into commercial realities.
On the subject of translation, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program, or DPP, the results of which have been translated into educational resources and lifestyle intervention programs across the United States. This program illustrates an essential role of NIH: We fund and conduct research to improve public health that industry might never sponsor. In the case of the DPP, both of its very successful interventions—lifestyle change and the generic drug metformin—would not have been profit-drivers, but have significantly delayed or prevented type 2 diabetes after an average follow-up of 14 years. They also have been cost-effective.
The Technology Advancement Office, SBIR/STTR programs and the DPP illustrate the many ways NIDDK has found to foster collaboration, so important findings reach far beyond labs and health-care offices and into the lives and homes of people that need them.