Research at the National Institutes of Health Were you aware that part of your federal tax dollars goes to pay for research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? NIH, which employs about 18,000, is a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, operated by the federal government.
NIH conducts a wide variety of research studies for federal research agencies and supplies grants to medical centers and universities. NIH’s research is mainly the health issues that affect the American public. This research is coordinated through its 27 institutes, which are individually devoted to the research of a particular health area. Other offices and centers also are under NIH’s jurisdiction.
Most people are familiar with the National Cancer Institute. The goals of the National Cancer Institute are to develop techniques for curing cancers with valid treatments and managing those cancers that cannot be cured at the current time. Of course, research on the prevention of cancer is most important as well. Another prominent research branch of NIH is the National Institute of Mental Health which is charged with research into mental illnesses and basic research on both the brain and human behavior.
An institute of NIH that has received significant coverage by the press lately about its studies is The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Not too long ago, when the race to examine the structure of human DNA was all out, NHGRI was established in the U.S. in 1989 to organize genetic research on the structure of DNA and genetic diseases. The Office of AIDS Research is another more recent addition to this research genre. Although this research office is not yet its own institute, the Office of the Director manages it, along with the Office of Research on Women’s Health.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been active in research into communicable diseases since 1948. This institute is the primary research arm for combating AIDS as well as other viral agents that occur throughout the world, performing basic research into vaccines that may be effective against bacteria and viruses. This institute is active in developing effective drug therapies as well. A great deal of research is being done into asthma, its causes, and effective treatments, especially for children.
The new institute National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering was formed in 2000. This institute promotes research in the areas of physics, computer sciences, mathematics and chemistry, along with engineering disciplines for the creations of new technologies that improve health.
Another recent addition to the NIH family, but not an institute, is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine that was established in 1999. Its goals are to explore the alternative therapies with controlled studies and to train researchers in evaluating these techniques. Another NIH center is the John E. Fogarty International Center that supports international research and health training.
These are just a sampling of the many NIH institutes, offices and centers. For a vast amount of interesting information about all of NIH’s programs, go online tohttp://www.nih.gov.
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