The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an agency of the United States
Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation. It comprises 27 separate institutes, centers, and offices which includes the Office of the Director. Francis S. Collins is the current Director.
The NIH's research is divided into two parts: the NIH Extramural Research Program is responsible for the funding of biomedical research outside the NIH, while the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) is the internal research program of the NIH, known for its synergistic approach to biomedical science.With 1,200 principal investigators and more than 4,000 postdoctoral fellows in basic, translational, and clinical research, the IRP is the largest biomedical research institution on earth.
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 sciences information.
NIH devotes 10% of its funding to research within its own facilities (intramural research). They give 80% of its funding in research grants to extramural (outside) researchers. The extramural funding consists of about 50,000 grants to more than 325,000 researchers at more than 3000 institutions.
In FY 2010, NIH spent US$10.7bn (not including temporary funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) on clinical research, US$7.4bn on genetics-related research, US$6.0bn on prevention research, US$5.8bn on cancer, and US$5.7bn on biotechnology.
In 2011, a paper published in Science found that black researchers were 10% less likely to win NIH R01 grants (the oldest and most widely-used) than white researchers, after controlling for "educational background, country of origin, training, previous research awards, publication record, and employer characteristics." It also found that black researchers are significantly less likely to resubmit an unapproved grant than white researchers.
The study lead and economist Donna Grant said that grant reviewers do not have access to the applicant race, but may infer it from biographies or names. She also speculated that the decreased re-submission rate may be due to lack of mentoring.