What Does the NIH Do?


NIH is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers. Its scientists investigate many issues, such as cancer, eye disorders, genetic diseases, and aging.

NIH scientists helped to develop vaccines and cures for diseases like polio, yellow fever, and malaria. Additionally, they studied the toxicity of chemical compounds used in wartime industries and oxygen needs at high altitudes.


Research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) contributes to economic growth and improves public health in America while also used by private industry to develop medical innovations.

NIAAA conducts scientific studies to explore the causes of alcohol-related problems and applies those discoveries to medical practice. Researchers study healthy volunteers, those experiencing issues related to alcohol, and those enrolled in treatment programs to provide insights on how best to prevent and treat such issues.

Scientists of NIAA regularly communicate their research findings and implications for public health with reporters from various media sources and work alongside journalists who strive to explain complex scientific information in ways accessible to non-expert audiences. Furthermore, NIAA scientists produce educational materials and share research findings with teachers.


The National Institutes of Health is the world’s only source of medical research. Over 13,000 scientists from around the globe work at its main campus in Bethesda and its many outposts throughout America and worldwide.

NIAID scientists investigate infectious diseases, immunologic disorders, and allergies. A significant focus of research at NIAID involves understanding immune reactions in transplantation to mitigate and control the rejection of organs and cells.

Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health have led to many important discoveries that improve health and save lives, winning 169 Nobel Prizes. Notable innovations include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), understanding how viruses cause cancer, and learning how to control cholesterol, among many others. In addition to basic research, NIH supports clinical trials allowing doctors to put promising therapies through accurate patient tests.


NHGRI undertakes numerous high-risk efforts to translate genomic discoveries into improved health for all and initiates numerous high-risk efforts that identify genetic pathways associated with the disease. NHGRI-led research teams have discovered genes linked to cancer, hearing loss, hereditary dementias, and other illnesses and conditions.

The NHGRI Scientific Review Branch (SRB) oversees an initial peer review process for grant proposals submitted to NHGRI. These grants include research program projects; center grants; cooperative agreements; short courses; institutional training grants; career development awards, and more.

The NHGRI Division of Policy, Communications, and Education facilitates incorporating genomic knowledge into society by engaging stakeholders from diverse communities such as the general public, advocacy organizations, news media outlets, non-profit groups, academic institutions, and professional societies.

NIA on Aging

The National Institute on Aging conducts and supports basic, biomedical, clinical, and behavioral research on aging and the unique problems and needs experienced by older people. They serve as the lead federal agency for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia research. Furthermore, NIA supports training a diverse research workforce through programs like the Butler-Williams Scholars Program and the Summer Institute on Aging Research.

Congress annually allocates funding for research at the NIH through an annual budget. At the same time, each Institute and Center determines its scientific priorities within an established framework that considers current opportunities and rising public health needs. The Office of the Director handles policy and management matters while communicating science to patients, families, scientists, students, educators, industry, and the media.


NIBIB funds research in the general medical sciences. Its scientists work at the NIH main campus in Bethesda; research centers around the country, abroad, and worldwide. Additionally, the NIBIB oversees ethics rules which outline how scientists may utilize government grants and salaries, including any restrictions placed upon consulting services, professional associations membership, or investing in health-related companies.

Research at the NIH is of utmost importance to society. It improves the quality of life and the economy domestically and abroad while producing new medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tests that benefit humankind.

Research at the NIH can lead to new ways of combatting diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It has led to public health initiatives like tobacco control measures, fluoridation of drinking water supplies, and exercise promotion initiatives.