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National Center for Research Resources

Using Technology to Study Cellular and Molecular Biology

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About NIH

About the National Institutes of Health

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Begun as the one-room Laboratory of Hygiene in 1887, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today is one of the world's foremost medical research centers and the federal focal point for health research in the United States.

Mission and Goals

The NIH mission 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. The goals of the agency are to

NIH works toward meeting those goals by providing leadership, direction, and grant support to programs designed to improve the health of the nation through research in the


Composed of 27 separate institutes and centers, NIH is one of eight health agencies of the Public Health Service within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH encompasses 75 buildings on more than 300 acres in Bethesda, Md., as well as facilities at several other sites in the United States. The NIH budget has grown from about $300 in 1887 to more than $27.8 billion in 2004.

Research Programs

One of NIH's principal concerns is to invest wisely the tax dollars entrusted to it for the support and conduct of this research. Approximately 82 percent of the investment is made through grants and contracts supporting research and training in more than 2,000 research institutions throughout the United States and abroad. In fact, NIH grantees are located in every state in the country. These grants and contracts make up the NIH Extramural Research Program.

Approximately 10 percent of the budget goes to NIH's Intramural Research Programs, the more than 2,000 projects conducted mainly in its own laboratories. These projects are central to the NIH scientific effort. First-rate intramural scientists collaborate with one another regardless of institute affiliation or scientific discipline and have the intellectual freedom to pursue their research leads in NIH's own laboratories. These explorations range from basic biology to behavioral research, to studies on treatment of major diseases.

Grant-Making Process

The grant-making process begins with an idea that an individual scientist describes in a written application for a research grant. The project might be small, or it might involve millions of dollars. The project might become useful immediately as a diagnostic test or new treatment, or it might involve studies of basic biological processes whose clinical value may not be apparent for many years.

Each research grant application undergoes peer review. A panel of scientific experts, primarily from outside the government, who are active and productive researchers in the biomedical sciences, first evaluates the scientific merit of the application. Then, a national advisory council or board, composed of eminent scientists as well as members of the public who are interested in health issues or the biomedical sciences, determines the project's overall merit and priority in advancing the research agenda of the particular NIH funding institutes.

About 38,500 research and training applications are reviewed annually through the NIH peer-review system. At any given time, NIH supports 35,000 grants in universities, medical schools, and other research and research training institutions, both nationally and internationally.

NIH Nobelists

The roster of people who have conducted NIH research or who have received NIH support over the years includes some of the world's most illustrious scientists and physicians. Among them are 115 winners of Nobel Prizes for achievements as diverse as deciphering the genetic code and identifying the causes of hepatitis.

Five Nobelists made their prize-winning discoveries in NIH laboratories. You can learn more about Nobelists who have received NIH support at

Impact on the Nation's Health

Through its research, NIH has played a major role in making possible many achievements over the past few decades, including

For more information about NIH, visit

About the National Center for Research Resources

The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world's foremost biomedical research organizations. The institutes and centers that compose NIH fund biomedical research to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone in the nation. Among the NIH institutes and centers, NCRR has a unique role. Rather than supporting studies of specific diseases or disorders, NCRR supports programs that ensure that essential tools, materials, specialized facilities, and resources for infrastructure and manpower development are accessible to biomedical researchers throughout the nation. In this way, NCRR enables research in many areas of health and complements the missions of the NIH categorical institutes. NCRR's diverse array of resources is concentrated in four divisions:

Biomedical Technology Research and Research Resources: A large network of Biomedical Technology Resource Centers provides the research community nationwide with the newest and most advanced technologies and techniques. Core scientists at these centers collaborate in multidisciplinary investigations and train visiting researchers to apply these technologies and techniques to basic and clinical studies. In addition, NCRR provides institutional grants to purchase expensive state-of-the-art and high-end instrumentation to be used by a number of investigators on a shared basis.

Clinical Research Resources: A national network of General Clinical Research Centers offers NIH-supported investigators and others specialized research environments that are professionally staffed, have state-of-the-art technologies and Web-based networks, and provide collaborative research opportunities. NCRR also supports networks of National Gene Vector Laboratories and Human Islet Cell Resource Centers, a resource for normal and diseased human tissue for research, and science education for K–12 students and the public.

Comparative Medicine: Animal models and colonies (mammalian and nonmammalian), genetic stocks, and biological materials—such as cell lines, tissues, and organs—help meet NIH-supported investigators' resource needs. In particular, the NCRR network of eight National Primate Research Centers is a valuable resource for investigations of human health and disease.

Research Infrastructure: Diverse grant programs help build, expand, and strengthen the nation's biomedical research environment by developing research infrastructure and faculty capacity at minority institutions that award doctorates in the health or health-related sciences; improving biomedical and behavioral research through an NIH-wide program of matching grants for construction and renovation of research facilities; and increasing competitiveness of institutions from states with limited NIH support.

For more information about research resources and resource-related funding opportunities, visit the National Center for Research Resources Web site at

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