is the National Institutes of Health (NIH)?
1887, the National Institutes of Health today is one of the world's
foremost medical research centers, and the Federal focal point for
medical research in the U.S. The NIH, comprised of 27 separate
Institutes and Centers, is one of eight health agencies of the Public
Health Service which, in turn, is part of the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.
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
National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID
conducts and supports research to prevent, diagnose and treat
illnesses such as HIV disease and other sexually transmitted diseases,
tuberculosis, malaria, asthma and allergies. NIH is an agency of the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had its origins in the earliest days
of the Public Health Service. In 1948, the Rocky Mountain Laboratory
and the Biologics Control Laboratory, both dating to 1902, joined the
Division of Infectious Diseases and the Division of Tropical Diseases
of the National Institutes of Health to form the National
Microbiological Institute. Six years later, Congress gave the
Institute its present name to reflect the inclusion of allergy and
immunology research. Today, NIAID provides the major support for
scientists conducting research aimed at developing better ways to
diagnose, treat and prevent the many infectious, immunologic and
allergic diseases that afflict people worldwide.
NIAID is composed of four
extramural divisions: the Division of AIDS; the Division of Allergy,
Immunology and Transplantation; the Division of Microbiology and
Infectious Diseases; and the Division of Extramural Activities. In
addition, NIAID scientists conduct intramural research in laboratories
located in Bethesda, Rockville and Frederick, Maryland, and in
Following is a brief description
of the major areas of investigation.
Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). NIAID is responsible for
conducting and supporting basic research on the pathogenesis of the
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS; developing new
drug therapies; conducting clinical trials of promising experimental
drugs for HIV infection and related opportunistic infections and
cancers; carrying out epidemiologic studies to assess the impact of
HIV on the populations most severely affected by the epidemic; and
developing and testing HIV vaccines.
· Asthma and
Allergic Diseases. Research on asthma and allergies has revealed
much about their underlying mechanisms and contributed to the
development of new ways to help affected individuals. NIAID has
established a network of asthma, allergic, and immunologic diseases
research centers to transfer results rapidly from fundamental studies
in immunology and clinical studies of allergy to clinical practice.
The Institute also supports the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma
Study to define factors that influence the disease's severity and to
design and evaluate programs to reduce asthma episodes and deaths
among African-American and Hispanic children.
Diseases. New diseases are arising worldwide and old diseases are
re-emerging as infectious agents evolve or spread, and as changes
occur in ecology, socioeconomic conditions, and population patterns.
NIAID conducts and supports research on Lyme disease, hantavirus,
multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and other emerging diseases to
develop new or improved diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.
· Enteric Diseases. Worldwide, diarrheal diseases such as cholera and rotavirus
infection are major causes of illness and death in infants and
children. In contrast, viral hepatitis in its various forms, can cause
severe disease in older children and adults, although it produces few
symptoms among younger age groups. NIAID supports basic research on
how enteric agents cause illness as well as studies aimed at
developing and testing vaccines to prevent enteric infections.
· Genetics and
Transplantation. NIAID supports studies aimed at improving
immunosuppressive therapies, further developing reagents needed for
precise tissue matching, defining the genetic regulation of the immune
response, and understanding the molecular mechanisms that control
immune system genes. NIAID is participating in the first NIH
cooperative clinical trial in kidney transplantation, designed to
translate developments in basic research into new therapies to prevent
Diseases. The immune system is a complex network of specialized
organs and cells that has evolved to defend the body against attacks
by foreign invaders. When functioning properly, the system fights off
infections by such agents as viruses and bacteria. A malfunction,
however, can unleash an enormous variety of diseases from allergy to
arthritis to cancer. NIAID research focuses on the basic biology of
the immune system and mechanisms of immunologic diseases including
· Malaria and Other
Tropical Diseases. Diseases such as malaria, filariasis,
trypanosomiasis, and leprosy disable and kill millions of people
worldwide. NIAID's research efforts in tropical medicine are conducted
by U.S. and foreign investigators receiving Institute support and by
NIAID scientists in Bethesda. NIAID supports a number of centers for
tropical medicine research in countries where such diseases are
Transmitted Diseases. More than 13 million Americans each year
acquire infectious diseases other than AIDS through sexual contact.
Such STDs as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes, and human
papillomavirus can have devastating consequences, particularly for
young adults, pregnant women, and newborn babies. NIAID-supported
scientists in STD Cooperative Research Centers, NIAID laboratories,
and other research institutions are developing better diagnostic
tests, improved treatments, and effective vaccines.
Development. Effective vaccines have contributed enormously to
improvements in public health in the United States during the last
century. Research conducted and supported by NIAID has led to new or
improved vaccines for a variety of serious diseases, including rabies,
meningitis, whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox, and
pneumococcal pneumonia, to name a few. NIAID supports vaccine
evaluation units for the testing of new vaccines in people at a number
of U.S. medical centers.
areas of research include fungal diseases, hospital-associated
infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, respiratory diseases, and
antiviral and antimicrobial drug development.