RARE Daily

Chris Austin Will Leave NCATS to Join VC Firm Flagship Pioneering

March 18, 2021

Rare Daily Staff          

Christopher Austin, said he will step down from his position as director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences on April 15, 2021, to join venture firm Flagship Pioneering as a CEO-partner.

In a career spanning almost 20 years at the National Institutes of Health, with 10 of those years as director of NCATS since its inception, Austin has worked with staff, academia, and the private sector to show how translational science can improve the process of bringing more treatments to more people more quickly.

“To say that this has been the experience of a lifetime would be to minimize it,” Austin said of his time at NCATS, in a letter announcing his decision.

In the letter he noted that his job at NCATS—to establish its mission and culture and demonstrate the ability of translational science to deliver transformative improvements in the process of developing treatments and cures and getting them to all the patients who need them—has been accomplished. And he is confident in NCATS leadership going forward: “I am supremely confident that NCATS’ greatest accomplishments are still to come.”

Austin’s been fortunate he wrote: “I came to NIH in 2002 to take on a unique opportunity at a singular moment in scientific history: to help design and implement scientific programs to derive biological insights and therapeutic potential from the human genome sequence that was soon to be completed. I often refer to that opportunity as the best job in the history of science. And indeed, it was. I started myriad entirely new initiatives, in areas new to NIH and new to science. The hundreds of collaborators, grantees and colleagues I have worked with have made these initiatives successful beyond my highest expectations.”

Now it’s time to move on. His job as CEO–partner at Flagship Pioneering will be to infuse the same values and culture he helped establish at NCATS into new private-sector companies and deliver transformative improvements to people living with illnesses with unmet needs.

Deputy Director Joni Rutter will serve as acting director of NCATS while a national search for a new director is underway.

Photo: Chris Austin, soon-to-be former director of NCATS and CEO-partner at Flagship Pioneering

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