The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research was launched in September, 2004, to address roadblocks to research and to transform the way biomedical research is conducted by overcoming specific hurdles or filling defined knowledge gaps. Roadmap programs span all areas of health and disease research and boundaries of NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs). These programs are expected to have exceptionally high potential to transform the manner in which biomedical research is conducted. They are also expected to be short term, 5–10 year programs.
In 2006, Congress authorized the NIH to develop innovative and cross-cutting programs by funding the NIH Common Fund within the Office of the Director. The NIH Common Fund, includes the programs of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, and is coordinated by the Office of Strategic Coordination or the National Center for Advancing Translational Research (NCATS). Roadmap/Common Fund programs provide limited term investments in strategic areas to stimulate further research through IC-funded mechanisms.
Planning and implementation of Roadmap/Common Fund programs within the Office of the Director are highly dynamic to allow the NIH the flexibility to respond quickly to new ideas, challenges, gaps and advances in biomedicine. Roadmap/Common Fund programs are developed from a strategic planning process involving broad, representative input from multiple scientific and public sources. Through this process, 12 roadblocks were articulated that are being addressed through many initiatives. These 12 challenges have been categorized according to three themes: New Pathways to Discovery, Research Teams of the Future, and Reengineering the Clinical Research Enterprise.
NCI-CIP participates in initiatives funded through the Roadmap/Common Fund that address specific roadblocks, gaps or emerging opportunities where advances in imaging play a key role: Molecular Libraries & Imaging Program, Nanomedicine, and Regulatory Science Programs.
The Molecular Libraries and Imaging program offers biomedical researchers access to the large-scale screening capacity necessary to identify small molecules that can be optimized as chemical probes to study the functions of genes, cells, and biochemical pathways in health and disease. They may also be used by researchers in the public and private sectors to validate new drug targets, which could then move into the drug-development pipeline.