National Institutes of Health

National Institutes of Health

Coordinates: 39°00′02″N 77°06′09″W / 39.000443°N 77.102394°W / 39.000443; -77.102394

National Institutes of Health
NIH logo.svg
National Institutes of Health logo
NIH Clinical Research Center aerial.jpg
Aerial photo of the NIH Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center
Agency overview
Formed 1930 (1930)
Preceding agency Hygienic Laboratory
Headquarters Bethesda, Maryland
Annual budget US$30.9bn (as of 2010)[1]
Agency executive Francis S. Collins, Director
Parent agency Department of Health & Human Services
Child agencies National Cancer Institute
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Library of Medicine
Clinical Center - Building 10

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation. It consists of 27 separate institutes, centers, and offices which includes the Office of the Director. Francis S. Collins is the current Director.

As of 2003, the NIH was responsible for 28%—about US$26.4 billion—of the total biomedical research funding spent annually in the U.S., with most of the rest coming from industry.[2]

The NIH's research is divided into two parts: the Extramural Research Program is responsible for the funding of biomedical research outside the NIH, while the Intramural Research Program (IRP) is the internal research program of the NIH, known for its synergistic approach to biomedical science [3]. With 1,200 principal investigators and over 4,000 postdoctoral fellows in basic, translational, and clinical research, the IRP is the largest biomedical research institution on earth [4]. The unique funding environment of the IRP facilitates opportunities to conduct both long-term and high-impact science that would otherwise be difficult to undertake. With rigorous external reviews ensuring that only the most innovative research secures funding [5], the IRP is responsible for many scientific accomplishments, including the discovery of fluoride to prevent tooth decay, the use of lithium to manage bipolar disorder, and the creation of vaccines against hepatitis, Haemophi­lus influenzae (HIB), and human papillomavirus [6]. Intramural research is primarily conducted at the main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and the surrounding communities. The National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Drug Abuse are located in Baltimore, Maryland, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is in Research Triangle, North Carolina. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) maintains Rocky Mountain Labs in Hamilton, Montana,[7] with an emphasis on virology.

The goal of NIH research is to acquire new knowledge to help prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability, from the rarest genetic disorder to the common cold. The NIH mission is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone. NIH works toward that mission by conducting research in its own laboratories, supporting the research of non-Federal scientists (in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad), helping in the training of research investigators, and fostering communication of medical and health sciences information.



Name Acronym Description Est.
National Cancer Institute NCI Research and training aimed to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer. 1937
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases NIAID Research goals include striving to understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. The NIAID-funded Influenza Genome Sequencing Project is a collaborative effort designed to increase the genome knowledge base of influenza and help researchers understand how flu viruses evolve, spread and cause disease.[8] 1948
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research NIDCR Provides leadership for a national research program designed to understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious and inherited craniofacial-oral-dental diseases and disorders. 1948
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases NIDDK Conducts and supports research and provides leadership for a national program in diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolic diseases, digestive diseases and nutrition, and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases. 1948
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute NHLBI Provides leadership for a national program in diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lung, and blood; blood resources; and sleep disorders. Also has administrative responsibility for the NIH Women's Health Initiative. 1948
National Institute of Mental Health NIMH Understanding, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses through basic research on the brain and behavior, and through clinical, epidemiological, and services research. 1949
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke NINDS Supports and conducts research, both basic and clinical, on the normal and diseased nervous system, fosters the training of investigators in the basic and clinical neurosciences, and seeks better understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurological disorders. 1950
National Library of Medicine NLM NLM collects, organizes, and makes available biomedical science information to investigators, educators, and practitioners and carries out programs designed to strengthen medical library services in the United States. The NLM established the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) which is a central repository of biological information and includes the PubMed literature database and the gene database GenBank. The NCBI is one of the largest components of the NLM. 1956
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development NICHD NICHD researchs fertility, pregnancy, growth, development, and medical rehabilitation for the promotion of all aspects of child health. 1962
National Institute of General Medical Sciences NIGMS NIGMS supports basic biomedical research not targeted to specific diseases, funds studies on genes, proteins, and cells, supports research training programs that produce the next generation of biomedical scientists, has special programs to encourage underrepresented minorities to pursue biomedical research careers. 1962
National Eye Institute NEI Conducts and supports research that helps prevent and treat eye diseases and other disorders of vision. 1968
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences NIEHS Research on how environmental exposures, genetic susceptibility, and age interact to affect an individual's health. 1969
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA NIAAA research is focused on improving the treatment and prevention of alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. 1970
National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA NIDA supports and conducts research on drug abuse and addiction prevention, treatment, and policy. 1973
National Institute on Aging NIA Undertakes research on the biomedical, social, and behavioral aspects of the aging process, prevention of age-related diseases and disabilities, promotion of better quality of life for all older Americans. 1974
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases NIAMS NIAMS supports research into causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. 1986
National Institute of Nursing Research NINR NINR supports clinical and basic research to establish a scientific basis for the care of individuals across the life span. 1986
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders NIDCD Conducts and supports biomedical research and research training on normal mechanisms as well as diseases and disorders of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. 1988
National Human Genome Research Institute NHGRI Supports the NIH component of the Human Genome Project. NHGRI's Intramural Research Program develops and implements technology for understanding, diagnosing, and treating genetic diseases. 1989
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering NIBIB Promotes fundamental discoveries, design and development, and translation and assessment of technological capabilities in biomedical imaging and bioengineering, enabled by relevant areas of information science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science, and computer sciences. 2000
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities NIMHD Promotes minority health, conducts and supports research, training, research infrastructure, fosters emerging programs, disseminates information, and reaches out to minority and other health disparity communities. 2010

Centers of the NIH

In addition to being divided by research area, NIH has many operating groups called centers operating across all of the Institutes.

Name Acronym Description Est.
Center for Scientific Review CSR The CSR is the focal point at NIH for the conduct of initial peer review of grant and fellowship applications, implements ways to conduct referral and review. 1946
Clinical Center CC The clinical research facility of the National Institutes of Health; provides patient care, services, and environment needed to initiate and support conduct of and training in clinical research. 1953
National Center for Research Resources NCRR Research projects and shared resources in biomedical technology, clinical research, comparative medicine, and research infrastructure. 1962
Center for Information Technology CIT; formerly DCRT, OIRM, TCB The CIT incorporates computers into the biomedical programs and administrative procedures of the NIH by conducting computational biosciences research, developing computer systems, and providing computer facilities. 1964
John E. Fogarty International Center FIC Promotes and supports scientific research and training internationally to reduce disparities in global health. 1968
Radiological Physics Center RPC Offers quality assurance to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that all participating institutions in NCI sponsored cooperative groups are following the guidelines for the physics-related aspects of their protocols. 1968
Quality Assurance Review Center QARC Provides radiotherapy quality assurance and diagnostic imaging data management for all of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored cooperative groups. It also contracts privately with the pharmaceutical industry for its services in clinical trials involving anti-cancer drugs. 1977
National Center for Biotechnology Information NCBI Established as a national resource for molecular biology information, NCBI creates public databases, conducts research in computational biology, develops software tools for analyzing genome data, and disseminates biomedical information - all for the better understanding of molecular processes affecting human health and disease. 1988
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine NCCAM Exploring complementary and alternative medical practices in the context of rigorous science, training researchers, disseminating authoritative information. 1992
Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center[9] VRC The mission of the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) is to conduct research that facilitates the development of effective vaccines for human disease. The primary focus of research is the development of vaccines for AIDS.[10] 1999[11][12]
Bioinformatics Resource Centers BRC Provides genomic, proteomic, biochemical, and microbiological data from a wide range of emerging/re-emerging pathogens (NIAID Category A, B, and C). Contains eight sub-centers (the BRCs) each dedicated to a different group of pathogens. Data are presented in a database format accessible by Web interfaces, together with tools for analysis. 2004
National Centers for Biomedical Computing NCBC Be the core of the networked national effort to build the computational infrastructure for biomedical computing in the nation. 2004
Center for Tissue Regeneration and Engineering at Dayton TREND Focused on human tissue regeneration and nanotechnology. 2006

Office of the Director

The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH. The OD is responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all the NIH components. Program offices in the Office of the Director are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH and for planning and supporting research and related activities. Current program areas are: minority health, women's health, AIDS research, disease prevention, and behavioral and social sciences research.[13] In July 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., to be the Director of the NIH. On August 7, 2009, the US Senate confirmed Dr. Collins by unanimous vote.

Program offices within the Office of the Director fund research through the institutes:

Full name Acronym Role
Office of Extramural Research OER provides guidance to institutes in research and training programs conducted through extramural (grant, contract, cooperative agreement) programs
Office of Intramural Research OIR coordinates research conducted directly by NIH personnel through intramural programs
Office of Management OM responsible for management and financial functions of the NIH
Office of Administration OA advises the NIH Director and staff on administration and management; develops and implements policies, and provides oversight in the areas of information resources management, management assessment, grant administration and contract management, procurement, and logistics
Office of AIDS Research OAR formulates scientific policy for, and recommends allocation of research resources for AIDS research at NIH
Office of Biotechnology Activities OBA "monitors scientific progress in human genetics research in order to anticipate future developments, including ethical, legal, and social concerns, in basic and clinical research involving Recombinant DNA, Genetic Technologies, and Xenotransplantation"[14]
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research OBSSR advises the NIH Director and other key officials on matters relating to research on the role of human behavior in the development of health, prevention of disease, and therapeutic intervention
Office of Communications and Public Liaison OCPL advises the Director and communicates information about NIH policies, programs, and research results to the general public
Office of Community Liaison OCL advises the Director, plans, directs and oversees activities to promote collaboration between NIH and its community, and ensures effective communication on policy and programs involving the community
Office of Disease Prevention ODP coordinates NIH activities regarding the application of research to disease prevention, nutrition and medical practice
Office of Intramural Training and Education OITE provides a comprehensive guide to postdoctoral training opportunities available at the NIH
Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management OEODM advises the Director and NIH staff on matters related to equal employment opportunity programs and policies
Office of Financial Management OFM advises the NIH Director and staff and provides leadership and direction for NIH financial management activities; develops policies and instructions for budget preparation and presentation and administers allocation of funds and manages a system of fund and budgetary controls
Office of Human Resources OHR advises the NIH Director and staff on human resource management; directs central human resource management services; and provides NIH leadership and planning on human resource program development
Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis OLPA provides legislative analysis, policy development, and liaison with the United States Congress[15]
Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives OPASI provides the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its constituent Institutes and Centers (ICs) with the methods and information necessary to manage their large and complex scientific portfolios, identifies – in concert with multiple other inputs – important areas of emerging scientific opportunities or rising public health challenges, and assists in the acceleration of investments in these areas, focusing on those involving multiple ICs
Office of Research on Women's Health ORWH serves as a focal point for women's health research at the NIH. The ORWH promotes, stimulates, and supports efforts to improve the health of women through biomedical and behavioral research. ORWH works in partnership with the NIH institutes and centers to ensure that women's health research is part of the scientific framework at NIH and throughout the scientific community
Office of Science Education OSE coordinates science education activities at the NIH and develops and sponsors science education projects in house. These programs serve elementary, secondary, and college students and teachers and the public. Free curriculum supplements developed in collaboration with curriculum writers, NIH divisions, and NIH scientists are available online and in hard copy at Curriculum Supplements. The OSE has also developed an interactive health and medical science career exploration web site for middle school and high school students called LifeWorks. Other educational resources from throughout the NIH are found on the OSE main page.
Office of Rare Diseases ORDR supports research on rare diseases and collaborates with related organizations such as the National Organization for Rare Disorders. The Office of Rare Diseases was first established within the Office of the Director in 1993, and then by public law statute in 2002.[16]
Ida A. Bengtson, a bacteriologist who in 1919 was the first women hired to work in the Hygienic Laboratory. [17]


The predecessor of the NIH began in 1887 as the Laboratory of Hygiene.[18][19] It grew and was reorganized in 1930 by the Ransdell Act into the National Institute of Health (singular at the time).


NIH devotes 10% of its funding to research within its own facilities (intramural research). They give 80% of its funding in research grants to extramural (outside) researchers. The extramural funding consists of about 50,000 grants to more than 325,000 researchers at more than 3000 institutions.[20] In FY 2010, NIH spent US$10.7bn (not including temporary funding from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act) on clinical research, US$7.4bn on genetics-related research, US$6.0bn on prevention research, US$5.8bn on cancer, and US$5.7bn on biotechnology.[21]

In 2011, a Science paper found that black researchers were 10% less likely to win NIH R01 grants (the oldest and most widely-used) than white researchers, after controlling for "educational background, country of origin, training, previous research awards, publication record, and employer characteristics." It also found that black researchers are significantly less likely to resubmit an unapproved grant than white researchers.[22] The study lead and economist Donna Grant said that grant reviewers do not have access to the applicant race, but may infer it from biographies or names. She also speculated that the decreased re-submission rate may be due to lack of mentoring.[23]

Economic impact

In 2000, a report from a Joint Economic Committee of Congress outlined the benefits of NIH research. It noted that some econometric studies had given its research, which was funded at $16 billion a year in 2000, a rate of return of 25 to 40 percent per year. It also found that of the 21 drugs with the highest therapeutic impact on society introduced between 1965 and 1992, public funding was "instrumental" for 15.[24]

Notable staff

  • Ezekiel Emanuel, physician and bioethicist
  • Robert Martensen, physician, author, historian, and director of the Office of History

See also


  1. ^ National Institutes of Health (Feb 25, 2011). "Appropriations (Section 2)". The NIH Almanac. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved Aug 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ Osterweil, Neil (2005-09-20). "Medical Research Spending Doubled Over Past Decade". MedPage Today. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Blue Ribbon Panel Reviews
  6. ^ NIH Sourcebook
  7. ^ About NIAID, NIAID web page, date accessed January 14, 2007.
  8. ^ "Genome Sequencing Centers, GSC, NIAID, NIH". Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  9. ^ "Vaccine Research Center Mission". 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  10. ^[dead link]
  11. ^[dead link]
  12. ^[dead link]
  13. ^ "NIH - Office of the Director". 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  14. ^ About OBA[dead link]
  15. ^ "Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis (OLPA)". Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  16. ^ "About ORDR". ORDR. Retrieved February 14, 2009. 
  17. ^ Harden, Victoria A.. "WWI and the Ransdell Act of 1930". A Short History of the National Institutes of Health. Office Of History National Institutes Of Health, United States National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "A Short History of the National Institutes of Health (1 of 13)". Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  19. ^ "SIC 9431 Administration of Public Health Programs". Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  20. ^ National Institutes of Health (May 23, 2011). "NIH Budget". National Institutes of Health. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved Aug 26, 2011. 
  21. ^ National Institutes of Health (Mar 15, 2011). "Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC)". Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved Aug 26, 2011. 
  22. ^ Ginther, D. K.; Schaffer, W. T.; Schnell, J.; Masimore, B.; Liu, F.; Haak, L. L.; Kington, R. (2011). "Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards". Science 333 (6045): 1015–1019. doi:10.1126/science.1196783. PMID 21852498.  edit
  23. ^ Corbyn, Z. (2011). "Black applicants less likely to win NIH grants". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2011.485.  edit
  24. ^ "The Benefits of Medical Research and the Role of the NIH". U.S. Joint Economic Committee. May 2000. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 

External links

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