The National Institute of Health (NIH) is one of the oldest and the most prestigious health funding organizations in the U.S. Its objective is to bring betterment to human life through medical discoveries, quality healthcare services, and disease cures. It is a beacon of hope for millions of people battling health compilations and looking for a reliable cure as well as investigators digging into biomedical research to bring the cure to all and sundry.

Aside from discovering the new and better medical solution, the NIH is also keen on tackling upcoming biomedical challenges through its 27 operating institutes and centers (ICs) – six centers and 21 institutes. The ICs cover a broad range of medical research and offer a solution for future medical practitioners to come. Each IC is unique and falls under the umbrella of NIH; it is important to understand its roles and goals.

1. The NIH Institute

The NCI, established in 1937, is one of the oldest institutes that aims to cure cancer, treat the symptoms, minimize the number of cancer deaths, and increase the life span of cancer survivors. Cancer is an uncontrollable division and spread of immature cells throughout the body. The immature cells are dysfunctional, making it difficult for the body to carry out the routine function. Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and claims as many as 10 million lives each year. The most common causes of cancer are genetic susceptibility, tobacco smoking, poor dietary habits, and radiation exposure.

The NCI is focused on tackling the disease that has caused a massive burden on human health and life. The institute addresses conditions and risk factors that cause or spread cancer. It encourages healthcare investigators to conduct trials and studies on the disease, its cause, and its cure. Young and seasoned investigators seeking a career in oncology apply for grants through the NCI. The NCI funds programs such as epidemiology and early detection of premetastatic aggressive cancer, etc.

2. National Eye Institute (NEI)

The National Eye Institute (NEI) revolves around the eyes. It addresses eye disorders at length, particularly visual impairment, blindness, diabetic nephropathy, glaucoma, etc.

Eye diseases are tremendously prevalent and a global health concern. Approximately 1.3 million Americans are blind, and another 2.2 million will be in 2030. Visually impaired people are prone to the panoply of medical complications such as falls, accidents, depression, and social withdrawal – which can lead to permanent disability.

The NEI holds the responsibility for not just treating eye-related diseases but also offering new methods and research to improve the current system of diagnosis and medical solutions.

3. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

The NHLBI covers various solutions for treating diseases that are related to the heart, lungs, and blood. These include congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, cardiac myopathies, ischemia, atherothrombosis, hypertension, stroke, sudden cardiac death, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cardiovascular complications of diabetes and obesity, etc.

Heart disease is the number #1 killer in the world. It led to more than 9 million deaths in 2016.

The NHLBI offers grants for various research programs including muscular dystrophy centers, small business technology grants, etc.

4. National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

The NHGRI, established in 1989, extensively covers the broad and ever-expanding field of the human genome to this day. The institute looks at human biology with respect to the ethical, social, and cultural implications not just individually but from society’s point of view. Funding programs include computational genomes and genomic analysis.

5. National Institute of Aging (NIA)

Addressing the health concerns of senior citizens, the NIA aims to treat all sorts of diseases and medical concerns that become significant in old age. The NIA covers prevention of mental and physical diseases related to aging and offers treatment solutions for millions of people. The NIA offers intramural and extramural research and funds research related to Alzheimer’s and dementia mainly.

6. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Specially dedicated to the growing concerns of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, the NIAAA aims to fight alcohol-related problems. The NIAAA currently offers to fund research related to unintentional injuries caused by drugs and alcohol, wearable alcohol biosensors, and many more.

7. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The NIAID is one of the oldest institutes of the NIH that aims to fight and understand infectious diseases. It also studies the complex nature of epidemics and their reasons for spreading in the masses. The NIAID offers research in dissemination and implementation research in health, HIV/AIDS clinical trial units, etc.

8. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

The NIAMS invests in the researchers investigating musculoskeletal disease, arthritis, as well as skin diseases and encourages them to play their role in finding cure and management. Currently, the NIAMS offers two grants, including a clinical trial planning grant (R34) and advancing mechanistic probiotic/prebiotic and human microbiome research.

9. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

The goal of the NIBIB is to develop solutions for modern techniques related to biomedical imaging and bioengineering. The NIBIB offers various funding opportunities; some of the latest include the BRAIN Initiative, medical rehabilitation research resource, and administrative supplement for research on bioethical issues.

10. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

The NICHD aims to deliver modern solutions and opportunities for researchers to explore the fields of fertility, pregnancy, and growth so that every child in the world is free of any sort of congenital disability or disease. The NICHD fundings prioritize certain research areas such as lingual and biliteracy development followed by socio-economic and environmental factors. Low priority is set for human/animal model targeting a certain group of organs to track down a certain disability or disease.

11. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorder (NIDCD)

The NIDCD aims to address disorders related to the basic human senses, which affect a great part of the American population. The institute offers to fund in research grants, research training, and development, and also covers small business grants, clinical research grants, as well as, conference grants.

12. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

The goal of this institute is to provide research for dental and craniofacial-related diseases. This institute aims to bring quality and improvement by offering research in various fields. Currently, it offers funding in Bioethical related fields, as well as interdisciplinary research in women’s health.

13. National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

The institute aims to address some of the most common diseases and disorders related to kidney and digestive system that are not just prevalent in the USA but in the world. The institute also covers diabetes and pursues modern methods for tackling the said diseases and disorders. It offers various kinds of funding; it is currently offering Funding Opportunities, Clinical Research Scholars Program, and Omnibus Solicitation of the NIH for Small Business Technology Transfer.

14. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)

To fight the menace of drug abuse in order to improve not just individual lives but create a stable and healthy environment, the NIDA calls for research in order to employ up-to-date methods for fighting drug abuse.

Currently, the NIDA is pursuing Opioid epidemic by offering small business setups appropriate funding. The NIDA is also contributing to research on substance abuse as well as HIV/AIDS.

15. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences combines the effect of environmental effects and human health to study the adverse effects that the environment causes on human health and how humans contribute to the environmental causes.

Currently, the NIEHS has various funding opportunities, including researches related to emergency responses and effects of harsh weather on aging.

16. National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS)

The NIGMS addresses diagnosis and techniques through which basic medical treatment is pursued. The institute covers a variety of fields in research and treatment. Currently, the NIGMS is offering the R01 research grants as well as the prestigious Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards (MIRA).

17. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The NIMH helps in research and studies that are related to mental diseases and steps to be taken to prevent mental diseases and disorders. The institute also encourages making the society a better place by funding various projects related to a better and healthy society, including treatment of untreated psychosis, drug discovery for the nervous system, etc.

18. National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

The NIMHD aims to improve minority health and ensures that no matter how minor a group of the population may be, they are attended with the best medical sources available. As of now, the funding programs include ethical, legal, and social implications of genome research, along with harsh climatic effects on aging.

19. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

This institute helps combat neurological disorders and focuses on brain activities. It supports basic, transitional, as well as, clinical research and offers funding in various fields regarding the neurological system. Some of the areas in which the NINDS is funding nowadays are HLA and KIR region genomics, BRAIN initiatives, and many more.

20. National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)

The NINR focuses on improving and establishing solutions for improving the health of age, racial and ethnic groups in the susceptible populations. For such improvement, nursing methods require research of the modern scale. The NINR currently funds HEAL Initiatives and predoctoral training for advanced data analytics, among others.

21. National Library of Medicine (NLM)

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) allows medical professionals to obtain all kinds of medical journals, research papers, and reports that can help researchers produce better solutions and results for intended publications. The NLM offers funding as R01 grants with programs such as Biomedical Informatics and Data Science, Computational Approaches to Curation, and many more, as well as other grant programs such as R13 and R15.

The NIH Centers
1. NIH Clinical Center (CC)

In order to make clinical practice better for medical professionals and conducive to clinical research, the clinics need a periodical inspection, and that is where the CC comes into the picture. The NIH Clinical Center offers training programs and courses to help educate the professionals better. It also offers a thorough guide for the professional ethics and rights of not just the researchers and medical personnel but also the patients.


2. Center of Information Technology (CIT)

The CIT combines the medical practice with computerized systems to offer a more precise view of medical research that would help the current and future medical professionals in honing their skills. The CIT, as a whole, aims to digitalize the medical profession by merging healthcare with IT.


3. Center of Scientific Review (CSR)

The CSR is one of the most important bodies of the NIH which opens all research submitted to NIH for peer review and critique. In fact, most of the grants submitted for research funding find their view into the CSR where they are thoroughly reviewed.


4. Fogarty International Center (FIC)

To encounter barriers and disparities in global health, FIC plays a vital role in not just pointing toward the problems and disparities but in helping overcome such forces.


5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

The NCCIH helps undertake complementary and integrative interventions whilst ensuring scientific and medical practices and ethics. Throughout the year, the NCCIH announces funding opportunities for various fields including the promotion of research on music and health, self-management of chronic pain via a biopsychosocial perspective, etc.


6. National Center of Advanced Translational Sciences (NCATS)

The NCATS plays a significant role in ensuring effective measures for the diagnosis and therapeutic techniques worldwide. It also offers open and small funding opportunities.


  1. Appel, L.J., Ehrhardt, S., Gresham, G.K., Meinert, C.L. & Meinert, J.L. (2017, September 7). Characteristics and trends of clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health between 2005 and 2015. Clin Trials. 15(1), 65–74.
  2. National Research Council (US) and the Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Organizational Structure of the National Institutes of Health. (2003). Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health: Organizational Change to Meet New Challenges. Washington, (DC): National Academies Press (US). Retrieved from