National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The Nation’s Medical Research Agency,” is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and is the primary federal agency for supporting and conducting medical research.
The current (November 2009) NIH Director is Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
The NIH Web site is located at http://www.nih.gov/index.html
The NIH dates back to 1887, when a one-room laboratory was created in the Marine Hospital Service (MHS), a predecessor agency to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). Federal legislation has had a major influence on the NIH’s growth since its earliest beginnings.
A few examples include passage in 1929 of the Narcotics Control Act, authorizing construction of two hospitals for drug addicts, and creation of a PHS Narcotics Division – which was changed to the Division of Mental Hygiene in 1930, which gave the surgeon general the authority to investigate causes, treatment and prevention of mental and nervous diseases; the 1937 National Cancer Institute Act; the 1946 Mental Health Act, and the creation in 1948 of the National Institute of Dental Research and the National Heart Institute (authorized by passage of the National Dental Research Act and the National Heart Act).
Also in 1948, the National Institute of Health was changed to the National Institutes of Health. Today the NIH is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers and is the focal point for health research in the United States.
NIH Mission and Goals
The mission of the NIH, according to its Web site, is “science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”
In fulfilling its mission, the NIH has the following goals:
• To foster innovative research strategies and creative discoveries and their applications in order to significantly advance the nation’s capacity to improve and protect health
• To exemplify and promote the highest standards in public accountability, scientific integrity, and social responsibility in the conduct of science
• To develop, maintain and renew this nation’s scientific human and physical resources to ensure our capability to prevent disease
• To expand the knowledge base in medical and associated sciences to ensure a continued high return on public investment in research and enhance the nation’s economic well being
NIH Areas of Research
NIH conducts and supports research covering several broad areas:
• Causes, diagnosis, prevention and cure of human diseases
• Human growth and development processes
• Biological effects of environmental contaminants
• Understanding addictive, mental and physical disorders
• Directing programs to collect, disseminate and exchange information in health and medicine, including the support and development of medical libraries, training medical librarians and other specialists in health information
The NIH is comprised of 27 different components – called institutes and centers, each with its own specific research agenda. All except three receive their funding directly from Congress, and each administers its own budget.
The Office of the Director is the central office, responsible for policy setting for NIH and for planning, coordinating and managing activities of all NIH components. The NIH Institutes and Centers include:
• National Cancer Institute (NCI)
• National Eye Institute (NEI)
• National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
• National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
• National Institute on Aging (NIA)
• National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
• National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
• National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
• National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
• National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
• National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
• National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
• National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
• National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
• National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
• National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
• National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
• National Library of Medicine (NLM)
• Center for Information Technology (CIT)
• Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
• John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC)
• National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
• National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD)
• National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
• NIH Clinical Center (CC)
NIH Outreach Efforts
The NIH engages in numerous public outreach efforts, including nationwide events, requests for public input on NIH projects, and special programs designed specifically to involve representatives in clinical research enterprises. Some of the NIH outreach activities include:
• Clinical Studies – Medical research studies in which the public volunteer to participate. Also called trials or protocols, clinical studies help develop new medications and treatments for diseases and conditions. The NIH Web site contains links to clinical studies at NIH and nationwide clinical trials.
• Director’s Council of Public Representatives – A federal advisory committee comprised of members of the public who provide input on the direction and future development of the NIH.
• Community Liaison Opportunities – The Office of Community Liaison, with its longstanding partnership with the Bethesda/Chevy Chase community, serves the interests and well-being of NIH and its neighbors.
• Healthy Volunteers – Each year more than 3,500 healthy individuals take part in NIH medical research studies. They provide researchers with important comparisons to people with specific illnesses. The NIH site has links to how to become a healthy volunteer.
• Public Liaison Opportunities – The NIH Institutes and Centers hold numerous events and activities throughout the country. Interested parties are encouraged to subscribe to the NIH Public Bulletin to learn more about such events as well as resources and publications developed with and for the public.
• Related Links – NIH Foundation, the Children’s Inn at NIH, and Friends of the Clinical Center.
Health Information at NIH
Whether it’s child and teen health, men’s health, minority health, senior’s health, wellness and lifestyle or women’s health - there are many resources available to NIH site visitors. On the NIH Web site, visitors can browse health categories on body location/systems, conditions and diseases, health and wellness, and procedures. There are related links to health information on the Web (including Medline Plus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing, Finding Reliable Health Information Online, and How to Find Medical Information).
Under Health Newsletters are descriptions and links to NIH News in Health (monthly), NCI Cancer Bulletin (weekly newsletter produced by the National Cancer Institute), CAM at the NIH (quarterly newsletter produced by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), Connections Newsletter (quarterly newsletter produced by the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center, a service of the National Institute on Aging), and Inside (a biannual update on research and activities of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders).
Health Databases include links to clinical trials, Healthfinder (a health resource maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements Database, Medline Plus, NIH publications list, and PubMed (comprehensive list of article titles and abstracts).
Health Hotlines include NIH toll-free information lines listed by health condition, and toll-free health hotlines for health organizations around the country.
A wealth of information on research in NIH labs and clinics, training at NIH, scientific interest groups, library resources, scientific community, human embryonic stem cell registry, clinical and lab research support are also available on the NIH Web site under the general heading “Research.”
The NIH advises that it cannot answer medical questions and that concerned individuals should consult with their own medical practitioners. The site is intended to provide information to enable people to better understand their health and any diagnosed disorders – but is not a substitute for professional medical care. The NIH also does not make referrals to either physicians or health care facilities. This is usually handled by state or local governments. For other questions and issues, contact the NIH at the following:
National Institutes of Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
Phone: (301) 496-4000
TTY: (301) 402-9612
For listing of NIH Hotlines: http://www.nih.gov/health/infoline.htm
--Suzannekane 20:27, 30 November 2009 (UTC)