NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/NCRR/
National Center for Research Resources: Major Programs
General Clinical Research Centers
A network of approximately 75 GCRCs, located primarily at U.S. academic medical centers
across the country, offers NIH-supported investigators and other researchers specialized
environments to safely and effectively conduct controlled inpatient and outpatient
studies. Each GCRC offers a range of resources. A center is typically a discrete unit
located within a medical center hospital. GCRC staff includes research nurses, dietitians,
biostatisticians, technicians, and administrative personnel who are highly trained to
provide a supportive environment for patients and to help investigators by facilitating
the day-to-day research process. In most instances, a GCRC will have a core laboratory,
metabolic and dietary resources, and a computerized database management and analysis
In l995, NIH established NGVLs at Indiana University, the University of Michigan, and
the University of Pennsylvania to produce certain vectors needed by researchers to
systematically advance the manipulation of human genes from basic research laboratories to
clinical studies of research patients. The NGVLs currently provide retroviral, adenoviral,
adenoassociated viral, and nonviral vectors.
Requests for vectors are submitted to Indiana University, which coordinates the
application review process of an NGVL steering committee. Committee members often mentor
applicants in an effort to enhance proposed protocols. Currently the NGVLs are funded by
NCRR, NCI, NIDDK, NHLBI, NICHD, NIAMS, NIAID, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, and the NIH
Office of Rare Diseases.
Regional Primate Research Centers
NCRRs seven regional Primate Research Centers provide unique research resources
for biomedical and behavioral research using nonhuman primates as experimental animal
models. Initial awards were made for construction of physical facilities at all seven
centers. Operating awards are made each year following review of each centers
proposed budget by NIH staff. The overall programs of each center also receive regular
peer review from outside supporting agencies. Universities serve as host institutions for
centers and provide academic environments of high standard for staff and visiting
Areas of emphasis include reproductive biology, infectious diseases, neurosciences,
biobehavioral research, metabolic, nutritional and cardiovascular diseases, and
environmental health and toxicology. Based on the availability of facilities and other
resources, the centers maintain extensive collaborative programs for scientists from many
institutions. Visiting scientist programs for investigators from the U.S. and abroad also
are included within the centers.
Laboratory Animal Sciences
LAS activities support research animal resources and scientific training in the field
of comparative medicine. Of particular interest is development of new and improved animal
models of human disease. To assist institutions in their efforts to meet animal care
guidelines established by the PHS and the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, LAS
supports projects to enhance the environmental conditions of laboratory animals and
improve their health. The goal of training supported through LAS is to provide graduate
veterinarians with the research skills and the motivation to develop careers in biomedical
and health research.
AIDS Animal Models
The NCRR Chimpanzee Biomedical Research Resources, once the Chimpanzee Breeding and
Research Program, was established in l986 to provide a stable supply of healthy
chimpanzees for biomedical investigations related to AIDS and hepatitis and to perpetuate
the chimpanzee population in the United States.
The Specific-Pathogen-Free (SPF) Rhesus Monkey Breeding and Research Program was
established in 1988 to create self-sustaining rhesus breeding colonies free from
contamination with certain simian retroviruses and herpes B virus, and to make SPF animals
available for PHS-supported research projects related to AIDS.
BMMR focuses on extramural research activities that explore and develop nonmammalian
models for biomedical investigations. Support for this research develops and broadens the
utility of a variety of models, including cell systems, nonmammalian organisms, and
nonbiological systems such as mathematical and computer systems. NCRR also supports
resources that supply critical biological materials such as cultures or genetic stocks,
and nonbiological materials such as on-line information on model organisms to the
biomedical research community. Through these resources, investigators have access to
stocks of widely used organisms ranging from yeast, mutant flies, and worms to fish and
A network of approximately 60 BT resource centers, located across the country primarily
at major academic institutions, makes the newest and most advanced technologies and
techniques accessible to the biomedical research community. These centers function as both
technological and intellectual resources, with an infrastructure that permits staff
scientists to react rapidly and effectively to emerging biomedical research needs.
Principal investigators at these centers lead scientific teams to discover, create,
develop, and disseminate technological innovations that have broad applications to studies
of biology, medicine, behavior, and health. The multidisciplinary environment of each
center stimulates innovation and collaborations among physical scientists, engineers, and
Shared instrumentation grants, awarded to institutions, provide groups of NIH-supported
researchers a means to obtain commercially available, expensive, technologically
sophisticated equipment. Shared use of these high-sensitivity and high-resolution
instruments needed to understand fundamental biological processes optimizes this federal
investment. The SIG mechanism provides between $100,000 and $400,000 for the purchase of
such instruments. To obtain instruments that cost more than $500,000, applicant
institutions may be eligible for joint funding arranged by agreement between NIH and the
National Science Foundation.
Research Centers in Minority
Begun in 1985, the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program is a
congressionally mandated initiative.
Through grant support, NCRR assists predominately minority academic institutions that
award doctoral degrees in the health or health-related sciences to conduct biomedical and
behavioral research in order to become more competitive in obtaining research funding.
NCRR support, for example, may help an institution attract additional research faculty in
health-science disciplines, provide necessary training in specialized analytical methods,
upgrade facilities, purchase advanced scientific equipment, and, through its faculty,
address research questions that are relevant to the health needs of all Americans,
especially ethnic minorities.
This award encourages scientists to work with educators and other organizations to
improve students (K-12) and the publics understanding of the health sciences.
The award supports development of a variety of model programs in biomedical and behavioral
science education that make it feasible for scientists, educators, media, and community
leaders to partner in order to promote science by increasing science literacy. Past models
have included a national video education program, a traveling museum exhibit about AIDS,
biotechnology research experiences for students and teachers, and health promoting
outreach programs for inner-city and rural communities.
This NIH grant mechanism is a merit-based, peer-reviewed program initiated in response
to congressional intent to broaden the geographical distribution of NIH grant funding for
biomedical and behavioral research. This award supports various research activities that
stimulate sustainable improvement in the biomedical research capacities of research
institutions located in states with historically low success rates for obtaining NIH
funding. Overall, the IDeA enhances an institutions competitiveness and increases
the probability of long-term growth of its investigators.
Through this grant mechanism, NCRR matches institutional funding to improve animal
resources, including facility upgrades and the development of programs and policies
related to laboratory animal care and use. Through the RFIP, NCRR also funds construction
to expand, remodel, renovate, or alter existing extramural facilities used for biomedical
and behavioral research and research training.
NCRR research resource directories are available to the extramural biomedical research
community at no cost. These directories list resource centers supported by the NCRR
Clinical Research, Biomedical Technology, and Comparative Medicine areas. Each directory
listing provides a point of contact, the centers research emphasis, and the resource
capabilities available to outside investigators. Biomedical investigators interested in
learning more about these resources may obtain directories by contacting the NCRR Office
of Science Policy at: 301-435-0888; fax: 301-480-3558; E-mail: email@example.com; or by
accessing the NCRR home page: http://www.ncrr.nih.gov.