NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/NICHD/      

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development : Mission

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) seeks to assure that every individual is born healthy, is born wanted, and has the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential for a healthy and productive life unhampered by disease or disability. In pursuit of this mission, the NICHD conducts and supports laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological research on the reproductive, neurobiologic, developmental, and behavioral processes that determine and maintain the health of children, adults, families, and populations. The institute administers a multidisciplinary program of research, research training, and public information, nationally and within its own facilities, on reproductive biology and population issues on embryonic development as well as maternal, child and family health and on medical rehabilitation.

NICHD programs are based on the concepts that adult health and well-being are determined in large part by episodes early in life, that human development is continuous throughout life, and that the reproductive processes and the management of fertility are of major concern, not only to the individual, but to society. The institute holds the tenet that when disease, injury, or a chronic disorder intervenes in the developmental process, it is incumbent to restore or maximize individual potential and functional capacity.

The institute supports and conducts basic, clinical, and epidemiological research in the reproductive sciences to develop knowledge enabling men and women to regulate their fertility in ways that are safe, effective, and acceptable to various population groups, and to overcome problems of infertility. The purposes of institute-sponsored behavioral and social science research in the population field are to understand the causes and consequences of reproductive behavior and population change.

Research for mothers, children and families is designed to advance knowledge of pregnancy, fetal development, and birth to develop strategies to prevent infant and childhood mortality to identify and promote the prerequisites of optimal physical, mental and behavioral growth and development through infancy, childhood, and adolescence and to contribute to the prevention and amelioration of mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Much of this research focuses on the disciplines of cellular, molecular, and developmental biology to elucidate the mechanisms and interactions that guide a single fertilized egg cell through it development into a multicellular, highly organized adult organism.

Medical rehabilitation research is designed to develop improved techniques and technologies with respect to the rehabilitation of individuals with physical disabilities resulting from diseases, disorders, injuries, or birth defects. Research training is an area supported across all NICHD research programs, with the intent of adding to the cadre of trained professionals available to conduct research in areas of critical public health concern.

An overarching responsibility of the NICHD is to disseminate information emanating from institute research programs to researchers, practitioners and other health professionals, and to the general public.


National Institutes of Health