Exec Q&A: William Slikker, Director of NCTR

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011 12:00 am  

William Slikker is the head man at NCTR, the primary research facility of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Gov. Mike Beebe recently signed a collaborative research agreement with the FDA and NCTR, and state leaders hope NCTR can continue to commercialize its technology through public-private partnerships such as its recent work with Little Rock startup Litmus Rapid-B.

The 40th anniversary brought FDA chief Margaret Hamburg to town for her first official visit to Arkansas. Just how significant is this milestone?

We are proud of our performance and contributions to the FDA to improve public health during our first 40 years. Our internationally recognized scientific research achievements continue to grow, and we are excited about the many possibilities that the future will bring.

Now that the state has signed an agreement with the FDA to collaborate on nanotoxin research, can we expect more partnerships like the one NCTR made with Litmus Rapid-B?

The high demand for safer, more effective and less costly regulated products creates an imperative for strategic partnerships with our stakeholders. It seems reasonable to expect that as new scientific approaches and tools are envisioned, the possibilities of technology building and technology transfer to the commercial sector would be favored.  
NCTR remains a relatively unknown quantity. Could commercialization help shine light on its role and how important it is to the FDA's mission?

It is reasonable to think it can contribute. NCTR is well known in the regulatory science research community. Our public exposure may not be quite as strong, but that too is changing. Going forward, NCTR will continue to facilitate the translation of scientific discovery in developing new methods, standards and models to speed review and approval of medical products vital to public health. Therefore, while commercialization is not an NCTR goal, it can be construed as a value-add to our prime goal of providing sound scientific data to support regulatory decisions, and thus supporting regulatory science within the FDA.      

How much of an impact could NCTR have on economic development in Arkansas?

Future technology spinoffs from NCTR scientific research to promote and protect the public health remain to be seen. As toxicology research moves forward at the center, so too will the possibility of developing innovative tools to help us achieve our goals economically and efficiently. From such developments, it seems wise to conclude commercialization could arise. Therefore, NCTR, as it has for the last 40 years, will continue to contribute to the state economy through its 567-people workforce (contract and federal). NCTR personnel earned $43.7 million in salaries in 2011. Those employees have their home in 19 different counties within Arkansas.



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