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Biennial Report of the Director
National Institutes of Health Fiscal Years 2008 & 2009

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Biennial Report of the Director

Appendix B: Priorities and Plans of the Institutes and Centers and the Program Offices in the Office of the Director

This appendix provides brief descriptions of the missions of the NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) and the program offices in the Office of the Director. Links to strategic plans (or strategic planning Web sites) are embedded in the names of the ICs and offices. The ICs are presented in the order in which they appear on the appropriation table in the Congressional Justification. The mission statements and strategic plans presented here classify and justify NIH priorities.

NIH Institutes and Centers

National Cancer Institute (NCI). NCI leads a national effort to reduce the burden of cancer. The National Cancer Act of 1971 broadened the scope and responsibilities of NCI and created the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports basic and clinical biomedical research; training; health information dissemination; and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer and HIV/AIDS; rehabilitation from cancer; and the continuing care of cancer patients and their families. NCI aims for a future in which we can prevent cancer before it starts, identify cancers that do develop at the earliest stage, eliminate cancers through innovative treatment interventions, and biologically control those cancers that we cannot eliminate so they become manageable, chronic diseases.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). NHLBI provides leadership for a national research program in diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lung, and blood; sleep disorders; and blood resources management. The Institute plans, conducts, fosters, and supports an integrated and coordinated program of basic research, clinical investigations and trials, observational studies, and demonstration and education projects. In addition, NHLBI plans and directs research in the development and evaluation of interventions and devices related to the prevention of diseases and disorders within its purview and the treatment and rehabilitation of patients who suffer from them. Also, the NHLBI oversees management of the NIH Women's Health Initiative.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). NIDCR's mission is to improve oral, dental, and craniofacial health through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information. The Institute accomplishes its mission through basic and clinical research; training and career development programs that ensure an adequate number of talented, well-prepared, and diverse investigators; coordination across all sectors of the research community; and the timely transfer of knowledge gained from research and its implications for health to the public, health professionals, researchers, and policymakers.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). NIDDK conducts and supports basic and applied research and provides leadership for national programs in diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases and nutrition; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases. Several of these diseases are among the leading causes of disability and death and all can seriously affect the quality of life of those who have them.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). NINDS aims to reduce the burden of neurological diseases and disorders. To accomplish this goal, the Institute conducts and supports basic, translational, and clinical research on the normal and diseased nervous system, fosters the training of investigators in the neurosciences, and seeks to better understand, diagnose, treat, and prevent neurological disorders. The NINDS research portfolio encompasses hundreds of neurological disorders, from diseases such as stroke that affect millions of people and are among the leading causes of death and disability, to rare disorders that individually affect a few people but collectively have an enormous impact on patients and families.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). NIAID's mission is to conduct and support research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious and immune-related diseases. Infectious diseases include well-known killers such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; emerging or reemerging threats such as influenza and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB); and "deliberately emerging" threats from potential agents of bioterrorism. Immune-related disorders include autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as asthma, allergies, and problems associated with transplantation.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). NIGMS supports basic biomedical research that increases the understanding of life processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The Institute's programs encompass the areas of cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics, computational biology, and minority biomedical research and training.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). NICHD conducts and supports research on all stages of human development, from preconception to adulthood, to better understand the health of children, adults, families, and communities. This includes research on fertility, pregnancy, growth, developmental disabilities, and medical rehabilitation.

National Eye Institute (NEI). NEI conducts and supports research that helps prevent and treat eye diseases and other disorders of vision. This research leads to sight-saving treatments, reduces visual impairment and blindness, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. NEI-supported research has advanced our knowledge of how the eye functions in health and disease.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The mission of NIEHS is to reduce the burden of human illness and disability by understanding how the environment influences the development and progression of human disease.

National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA leads a broad scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. The Institute provides leadership in aging research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs relevant to aging and older people and serves as the primary Federal agency on Alzheimer's disease research.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). NIAMS supports research to address the 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.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). 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. In addition, NIDCD conducts and supports research and research training related to disease prevention and health promotion; addresses special biomedical and behavioral problems associated with persons who have communication impairments or disorders; and supports efforts to create devices that substitute for lost and impaired sensory and communication function.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illness through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. NIMH supports research and research training to fulfill the following four objectives: (1) Promote discovery in the brain and behavioral sciences to fuel research on the causes of mental disorders; (2) Chart mental illness trajectories to determine when, where, and how to intervene; (3) Develop new and better interventions that incorporate the diverse needs and circumstances of people with mental illness; and (4) Strengthen the public health impact of NIMH-supported research.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA's mission is to lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction. This charge has two critical components. The first is the strategic support and conduct of research across a broad range of disciplines. The second is ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination and use of the results of that research to significantly improve prevention and treatment, and to inform policy as it relates to drug abuse and addiction.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIAAA supports and conducts research focused on improving the treatment and prevention of alcoholism and alcohol-related problems to reduce the enormous health, social, and economic consequences of this disease. NIAAA conducts and supports research in a wide range of scientific areas including genetics, neuroscience, epidemiology, health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption, prevention, and treatment; coordinates and collaborates with international, national, State, and local institutions, organizations, agencies, and programs engaged in alcohol-related work; and communicates research findings to health care providers, researchers, policymakers, and the public.

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). NINR supports clinical and basic research to build the scientific foundation for clinical practice, prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness, enhance end-of-life and palliative care, and develop the next generation of scientists. The Institute’s scientific focus spans multiple disciplines and unites the biological and behavioral sciences to better understand the complex interactions between the physiological factors of health and disease and an individual’s knowledge, beliefs, and behavior.

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). NHGRI's mission has expanded since the initiation of the International Human Genome Project to encompass a broad range of studies aimed at understanding the structure and function of the human genome and its role in health and disease. A critical part of the NHGRI mission continues to be the study of the ethical, legal, and social implications of genome research. NHGRI also supports the training of investigators and the dissemination of genome-related information to the public and health professionals.

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). NIBIB's mission is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance research and medical care.

National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). NCRR provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the environments and tools needed to make biomedical discoveries, translate these findings to animal-based studies, and then apply them to patient-oriented research. NCRR connects researchers with one another and with patients and communities across the Nation. These connections bring together innovative research teams and the power of shared resources, multiplying the opportunities to improve human health. Together, NCRR's four integrated and complementary divisions–biomedical technology, clinical and translational research, comparative medicine, and research infrastructure–accelerate and enhance research along the entire continuum of biomedical science.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). NCCAM is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science; training complementary and alternative medicine researchers; and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. To fulfill its mission, NCCAM supports a broad-based portfolio of research, research training, and educational grants and contracts, as well as various outreach mechanisms to disseminate information.

National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD).1 NCMHD promotes minority health and leads, coordinates, supports, and assesses NIH efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. In this effort, NCMHD supports and partners with other ICs to support basic, clinical, social, and behavioral research; promote research infrastructure and training; foster emerging programs; disseminate health information; and reach out to minority and other communities that suffer from disparities in health.

John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC). FIC strengthens human and institutional capacity to confront complex global health challenges through innovative and collaborative research and training programs. It builds the knowledge and skills of developing country foreign scientists, identifies crucial gaps in global health research, and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships.

National Library of Medicine (NLM). NLM is the world's largest research library of the health sciences, serving scientists, health professionals, and the public by collecting, organizing, and providing access to biomedical information. NLM also carries out programs designed to strengthen existing and develop new medical library services in the United States. It conducts research in health communications, supports medical informatics, and provides information services and sophisticated tools in the areas of molecular biology and toxicology/environmental health. NLM creates Web-based services for the general public containing information from NIH and other reliable sources. (Also see "The National Library of Medicine" in the section on "Capitalizing on Discovery," in Chapter 1.)

NIH Clinical Center. The Clinical Center is the NIH facility that provides the patient care, medical services, and environment necessary for NIH scientists to conduct clinical research. Clinical and laboratory research is conducted shoulder-to-shoulder at the Clinical Center and this tandem approach drives all aspects of its operations. (Also see "NIH Clinical Center" in the section on "Extramural and Intramural Research Programs" in Chapter 1)

Center for Information Technology (CIT). CIT incorporates the power of modern computers into NIH's biomedical and behavioral research programs and administrative procedures by focusing on three primary activities: conducting computational biosciences research, developing computer systems, and providing computer facilities. (Also see "Information and Information Technology" in the section on "Providing the Platform for Discovery" in Chapter 1.)

Center for Scientific Review (CSR). CSR carries out peer review of the majority of research and fellowship applications submitted to NIH; serves as the central receipt point for all such Public Health Service applications; makes referrals to scientific review groups for scientific and technical merit review of applications and to funding components for potential award; and develops and implements innovative, flexible ways to conduct referral and review for all grant applications. (Also see "NIH Peer Review Process" under the section on "Extramural and Intramural Research Programs" in Chapter 1.)

1 With enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, on March 23, 2010, the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities became an institute–the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

Office of the Director

Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). DPCPSI was established by mandate of the NIH Reform Act of 2006. DPCPSI’s role is to identify emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges, and scientific knowledge gaps that merit further research; assist NIH in effectively addressing identified areas; and develop and apply resources (databases, analytic tools, and methodologies) that will support priority setting and analyses of the NIH portfolio. DPCPSI now incorporates the functions of the former Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives. The primary components within DPCPSI are the Office of Strategic Coordination, which manages the NIH Common Fund (including the Roadmap), and the four OD program offices. DPCPSI also is the locus for NIH planning and reporting required by the Government Performance and Results Act and other government-wide performance assessment endeavors. (Also see the section on NIH Strategic Planning and the NIH Roadmap and Common Fund in Chapter 1).

As detailed below, the four OD Program Offices are in the areas of disease prevention; behavioral and social sciences research; women's health; and AIDS research.

  • Office of Disease Prevention (ODP). ODP fosters, coordinates, and assesses research related to disease prevention and health promotion, and disseminates related information that aims to improve the health of the U.S. population. ODP advises the NIH Director and collaborates with other Federal agencies, academic institutions, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and international organizations in the formulation and implementation of research initiatives and policies that promote public health. There are three additional offices within ODP: Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR), Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), and Office of Medical Applications of Research (OMAR):
    • ORDR stimulates, coordinates, and supports research on rare diseases to advance research opportunities and to respond to the needs of approximately 25 to 30 million people who have one of the approximately 6,500 known rare diseases. (Also see the section on the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network in Chapter 4, which addresses NIH Centers of Excellence.)
    • ODS promotes and supports, through collaboration with the ICs, basic and clinical research to increase understanding of the impact of dietary supplements (e.g., plant extracts, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hormonal extracts) on disease prevention and health maintenance. The mission is to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, stimulating and supporting research, disseminating research results, and educating the public.
    • OMAR is the focal point for evidence-based assessments of medical practice and state-of-the-science conferences–key mechanisms for assessing, translating, and disseminating the results of biomedical research to improve the delivery of health services to the public. The office also conducts an annual course to train journalists on how to critically evaluate and report on medical research.
  • Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). OBSSR coordinates and stimulates behavioral and social sciences research throughout the NIH and integrates it more fully into the NIH research enterprise. The Office provides leadership on matters relating to research on the roles of human behavior and the social environment in the development of health, prevention of disease, and therapeutic intervention, as well as in training, continuing education, and dissemination of research findings to the broader scientific community and the general public.
  • Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH). ORWH serves as the focal point for women’s health research at NIH, and promotes, enhances, and expands efforts to improve the health of women through biomedical and behavioral research, including that on sex and gender factors. ORWH ensures compliance with policies on the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research, and develops and implements NIH programs for the recruitment, retention, reentry, and advancement of women in biomedical careers.
  • Office of AIDS Research (OAR). OAR is responsible for the scientific, budgetary, legislative, and policy elements of the NIH AIDS research program. Through its unique and comprehensive trans-NIH planning, budgeting, and portfolio assessment processes, OAR sets trans-NIH scientific priorities, enhances collaboration, and ensures that research dollars are invested in the highest priority areas of scientific opportunity that will lead to new tools in the global fight against AIDS. OAR also supports a number of initiatives to enhance dissemination of research findings to researchers, physicians, institutions, communities, constituency groups, and patients.