The National Institutes of Health is an institution of the United States government which focuses on medical research. The Institutes are located in Bethesda, Maryland.
The predecessor of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began in 1887 as the Laboratory of Hygiene. It was grew and was reorganized in 1930 by the Ransdell Act into the National Institutes of Health. Today it is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, and the Federal focal point for medical research in the U.S. The NIH, headed by the Office of the Director and comprising 27 separate Institutes and Centers, is one of eight health agencies of the Public Health Service which, in turn, is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The current NIH Director is Elias Zerhouni.
Simply described, 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.
Institutes of the NIH
- National Cancer Institute (NCI): research and training aimed to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer. Est. 1937.
- National Eye Institute (NEI): conducts and supports research that helps prevent and treat eye diseases and other disorders of vision. Est. 1968.
- 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 Woman’s Health Initiative. Est. 1948.
- National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI): supports the NIH component of the Human Genome Project. Its Intramural Research Program develops and implements technology for understanding, diagnosing, and treating genetic diseases. Est. 1989.
- National Institute on Aging (NIA): 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. Est. 1974.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): research focused on improving the treatment and prevention of alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. Est. 1970.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID): research striving to understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. Est. 1948.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (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. Est. 1986.
- 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. Est. 2000.
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): research on fertility, pregnancy, growth, development, and medical rehabilitation for the promotion of all aspects of child health. Est. 1962.
- 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. Est. 1988.
- 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. Est. 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. Est. 1948.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): support and conduct of research on drug abuse and addiction prevention, treatment, and policy. Est. 1973.
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS): research on how environmental exposures, genetic susceptibility, and age interact to affect an individual’s health. Est. 1969.
- National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS): supports basic biomedical research that is 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. Est. 1962.
- 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. Est. 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. Est. 1950.
- National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR): supports clinical and basic research to establish a scientific basis for the care of individuals across the life span. Est. 1986.
- National Library of Medicine (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. Est. 1956.
Centers of the NIH
- Center for Information Technology (CIT; formerly DCRT, OIRM, TCB): incorporates computers into the biomedical programs and administrative procedures of the NIH by conducting computational biosciences research, developing computer systems, and providing computer facilities. Est. 1964.
- Center for Scientific Review (CSR): focal point at NIH for the conduct of initial peer review, makes decisions on applications, grants, and awards, implements ways to conduct referral and review. Est. 1946.
- John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC): promotes and supports scientific research and training internationally to reduce disparities in global health. Est. 1968.
- 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. Est. 1992.
- National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD): lead, coordinate, support, and assess the NIH effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities in minority groups; conduct and support basic, clinical, social, and behavioral research, reach out to minority and other health disparity communities. Est. 1993.
- National Center for Research Resources (NCRR): research projects and shared resources in biomedical technology, clinical research, comparative medicine, and research infrastructure. Est. 1962.
- Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center (CC): 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. Est. 1953.