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About the NIH
Begun as a one-room Laboratory of Hygiene in 1887, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers. An agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH is the Federal focal point for health research.
NIH is the steward of medical and behavioral research for the Nation. Its mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.
The goals of the agency are:
- to foster fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies, and their applications as a basis to advance significantly the Nation’s capacity to protect and improve health;
- to develop, maintain, and renew scientific human and physical resources that will assure the Nation’s capability to prevent disease;
- to expand the knowledge base in medical and associated sciences in order to enhance the Nation’s economic well-being and ensure a continued high return on the public investment in research; and
- to exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science.
In realizing these goals, the NIH provides leadership and direction to programs designed to improve the health of the Nation by conducting and supporting research:
- in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and cure of human diseases;
- in the processes of human growth and development;
- in the biological effects of environmental contaminants;
- in the understanding of mental, addictive and physical disorders; and
- in directing programs for the collection, dissemination, and exchange of information in medicine and health, including the development and support of medical libraries and the training of medical librarians and other health information specialists.
This page last reviewed on July 7, 2015